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Disability and the Notion of Human Development: questions of rights and capabilities

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From a rights perspective disability has come increasingly to be seen as less a matter of personal misfortune than of societal neglect and obstruction, and as much warranting claims on the state to ensure inclusion and equality as to prosecute a duty of care. This shift resonates with other transitions within international discourse, most notably the increasing prominence of the notion of human development, which emphasises the importance of equity, freedom, and full realisation of human rights and capabilities as central to societal developmental objectives. After briefly examining apparent parallels in discourses relating to disability and to human development, the capabilities approach, upon which the concept of human development is grounded, is examined more closely and its implications for disability considered. It is argued that a capabilities approach may serve alternatively to keep disability partially hidden from view or become a powerful means for identifying the responsibilities of governments and external agencies in genuinely equalising opportunities.
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Document Type: Special Article

Publication date: 01 December 2002

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