Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The blurred edges of intellectual disability

an article by Val Williams, Paul Swift & Victoria Mason (School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, UK) published in Disability & Society Volume 30 Issue 5 2015


The label of ‘intellectual disability’ can be a very blurred concept, because for those on the borders their label often arises from the interaction of the individual with their environment, from their socio-economic status, and from the social role which they choose to undertake.

This paper explores the contested notion of intellectual disability in the context of people who have been in trouble with the law in England, and contrasts their situation with that of people who have been protected by best interests decisions under the Mental Capacity Act (England and Wales). People who are on the ‘borderline’ of having an intellectual disability, like any citizens, have a range of intersecting identities.

Drawing on the notions of ‘interactional’ disability theory, we reflect on the shifting, relative nature of intellectual disability, and the need for the law to focus on support needs, rather than on impairment.

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