"It's not like I have a disability or anything!" Perceptions of impairment and disability among rural, young people

Lisa Bourke, Catherine Waite


Understandings of disability and impairment among the general public influence how people without disability interact with those with disability.  This paper explored how disability and impairment are understood by young people living in six rural communities in southeast Australia, including the perspectives of those with and without a disability.  Of the 172 rural young people surveyed, 6% self-identified as having a disability, 7% were categorised as ‘at risk’ of mental ill-health and almost half reported some type of impairment or health condition.  Using various measures, young people’s responses reflected key discourses of disability, including dimensions of impairment, social judgement and limited function, and a blending of the medical and social models.  These same young people separated the terms impairment and disability, embedding stigma in the latter.  The study concluded that these rural communities need to reconstruct understandings of disability so as to support young people with disability and/or impairment.  


Disability; impairment; rural; young people; stigma and mental illness

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v33i3.3261

Copyright (c) 2013 Lisa Bourke, Catherine Waite

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