AAPL guideline for forensic evaluation of psychiatric disabilities: a disability law perspective.

Contemporary disability law takes into account the insight that physical and mental conditions need not be disabling but for the environmental and attitudinal barriers that keep people with disabilities from social participation on a plane of equality with others. The need to use a wheelchair does not disable except for curbs and stairs, and many mental conditions do not disable except for social attitudes. The “AAPL Guideline for Forensic Evaluation of Psychiatric Disabilities” is a refreshing departure from writings that approach disability from a perspective that focuses on nothing but medical considerations and the study of how individuals are defective compared with established norms. The Guideline stresses the process of examination and list important legal considerations for examiners to apply. But the Guideline does not show any awareness of a model of disability other than a medical one that classifies individuals by defect. Psychiatrists would do well to consider the role of social barriers when using the Guideline in making disability-related examinations.