The impact of any disability policy depends on the conceptual model of disability upon which that policy rests. For the past quarter century of disability policymaking, culminating in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the dominant paradigm of disability has been a minority group model. That model identifies discrimination as the primary barrier facing people with disabilities in their desire for full social participation, and it proposes civil rights strategies as the proper policy response to that barrier. An alternative model of disability based on the concept of human variation is proposed that implies additional strategies for achieving the goal of integration of people with disabilities. The utility of a human variation model is illustrated by its application to the issue of access to employment.
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