The Contribution of Disability Movements and Disability Studies to Human Rights

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:56
Oral Presentation
Lisa PFAHL, Innsbruck, Austria
Julia BIERMANN, University of Innsbruck, Austria
In our presentation, we examine the intricate relationship between social theories about disability as a social barrier, the international disability rights movement and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons (UN CRPD). Our argument is that ideas pertaining to a social model of disability gained influence through the disability rights movement and the field of disability studies. Secured by the UN CPRD's human rights provisions, these ideas now become socially relevant and effective. Based on a literature review and empirical research, we make this argument by firstly focusing on the origins of the UN CRPD and secondly on its use in different countries.

Originating from Anglo-American debates of the disability rights movement and strengthened in the emerging field of disability studies, a social model of disability informs the UN CRPD. According to this model, disability is caused by the way society is organised and not a person's impairment or difference. With these ideas, the focus shifts away from an individual's body to social barriers that impede participation and inclusion; a crucial paradigm shift for policy-making. Based on empirical examples from developments in Germany and Nigeria, we show how the UN CRPD provides an effective instrument to challenge current provisions for children with disabilities in the field of education. In effectuating educational change, the UN CRPD eventually extends social theories on impairment, disability and stigmatisation into the political and eventually societal realm.