A working definition of ‘disability’ is crucial to any research, policy development or service provision in the field. There are many definitions of disability (Iezzoni & Freedman, 2008), some directly contradicting others. These differences originate from the different theoretical viewpoints which have been and are still being used to articulate what ‘disability’ is. These ‘competing’ models – though such competition is not explicitly stated in many cases – contribute to the confusion which often accompanies policy work and service provision in the disability-specific sector and those sectors closely connected – such as family caring.
Recent developments and discussions within the disability and family caring sectors in Ireland only highlight the challenges of obtaining a general consensus on the conceptualisation of disability.
The purpose of this paper, as with all papers in this series, is to ask questions with the aim of stimulating debate and critical thinking within the sector. This is particularly true as regards questions that may be uncomfortable for some readers.