Definition of “Handicap”

The HDM-DCP sees disability as a variation of human development, i.e., a difference in the level of achievement of life habits or in exercising human rights. Making disability a completely separate reality from human development is based on a dichotomy in perception, which far too often differentiates between people with disabilities having abnormalities and so-called “normal” or valid people.

According to the HDM-DCP, disability is not necessarily a permanent and static state for everyone. Since everything depends on personal factors or the environment in which a person lives, people may see the quality of their social participation improve or deteriorate over time.

Conceptual evolution of disability

Just a few decades ago, disability was systematically considered to be a characteristic of a person: people immediately considered that the presence of physical or functional differences automatically produced the disability, exclusion or stigmatization. Any person with significant impairment was, at that time, considered “disabled”. Although this idea is still wide-spread, starting in the mid-sixties the concept of disability gradually underwent radical changes. Indeed, this reductionist idea of disability was widely criticized and people saw the need to take into account the role of environmental factors in the process of disability, especially with the arrival of the sociopolitical model of disability advocated by the disability rights movement.

Disability Today

In spite of the progress made, there is still no real consensus today about the factors determining disability, especially regarding the environment. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the beginnings of an agreement has emerged over the past decade regarding the importance of the environment, but that there is a disagreement as to the exact role played and need to consider it as a mandatory conceptual domain to be included in the disability creation process.

In 2006, the United Nations (UN) adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It includes a definition of disability that focuses on reducing the inequalities in the interaction between people’s disabilities and environmental barriers. This definition is consistent with the HDM-DCP.