Disabilities and impairments: strategies for workplace integration.

This article argues that disabilities are, within many of the U.S. debates, best understood as certain kinds of impairment affecting a person’s capabilities to perform socially defined roles and functions within specific environments. We also argue that it is not the impairments per se that lead to claims about what we ought to do or ought not do for people with disabilities. Rather, it is only within the context of capabilities being linked to the concept of freedom–almost universally valued in the current U.S. socio-political environment–that disability issues take on an ethical tenor. Additionally, we link the notion of disability to that of social capital. In particular, we argue that any social organization that discriminates against people with disabilities by attenuating their opportunities within that environment also decreases the social cohesion that exists within that organization. Such corporate climates promote organizational structures and processes that fail to optimize facilitation of the mutual benefits of the members. Finally, we discuss three different kinds of accommodation strategy: assistive technologies, systemic personal change, and universal design. We suggest a case-based (casuistic) approach to problems caused by disabilities. Using methods from both philosophy and public policy, we then build policies for accommodations incrementally, based on an application of those methods to the cases, and resulting in a more nuanced process enabling the creation of policies that take account of the experiences of both disabled and non-disabled people.