Are people with physical impairments seen as a minority group or as individuals who take on the role of being disabled only in certain circumstances? While minority group membership has a variety of social, psychological, and legal advantages, it forces people to give up some individuality and gives the disability a more permanent connotation (Berbrier, 2004; Watson, 2002). Alternately, viewing disability as a role, and attaching the label "disabled" in certain circumstances, allows for a broader spectrum of individual choice. However, the label assumes someone who is disabled to be "less than able," thus carrying a strong stigma. Through my personal experience with a temporary disability, I examined the labels placed on people with physical impairments, both by the individual and by society in general. I conclude that the lived experiences of those with disabilities do not demonstrate that people with physical impairments self-identify as a member of the disabled community, but that they take on this label only when the environment fails to meet their needs.



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