“Impairment” is often used as a synonym for “disability,” as when a person is described as “hearing impaired.” In this context, “impairment” is a euphemism, deemed more appropriate than terms like “handicapped” or “deformed,” which are now largely defunct. Yet the status of “impairment” as a substitute for different conceptions of debility is complicated by the fact that, both within disability studies and in medical conceptions of the body, “impairment” is frequently distinguished from “disability.”

This essay may be found on page 107 of the printed volume.

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