The International Disability Rights Movement and the ICF

Disabil Rehabil. 2003 Jun;25(11-12):572-6. doi: 10.1080/0963828031000137072.


Purpose: To outline the thinking of disabled people about their situation and status before the formulation of the ICIDH (International Classification of Impairment, Disability and Handicap) in 1980, the growth of the international disability rights movement since 1980, its subsequent involvement in the revision process and then its hopes as to the effectiveness of the ICF (the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health-the revised ICIDH) in the future.

Method: This is a personal analysis based on the author's experience as a disability rights activist and as a member of the World Council of Disabled Peoples' International (DPI), elected in 1987 to represent DPI in the revision process and who later became Chair of the Environmental Task Force.

Results: These are shown to be a major shift from the medical model of disability to the adoption of the interactive model and the impacts of environmental factors in all aspects of health and functioning.

Conclusions: That proper use of the environmental factors within the ICF will ensure appropriate policies, systems and services for health care and support, provide measurable indicators for health status and sustainable development and underpin the recognition that disability is a human rights issue.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / classification
  • Civil Rights*
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons / classification*
  • Disabled Persons / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation
  • Environment
  • Health Services / classification
  • Health Services / standards
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • World Health Organization