“Disabled” Versus “Nondisabled”: Another Redundant Binary?

  • Mary WickendenEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies on Children and Development book series (PSCD)


Echoing other discussions on binaries, this chapter addresses the dichotomy “disabled versus nondisabled” and considers the dilemmas in using this categorisation in a world where “inclusion” is an avowed aspiration. Child mortality has dramatically reduced recently. However, some who survive will have impairments, leading to the label disabled and usually affecting their status as citizens. Meanwhile, attention globally is turning to maximising all children’s development. However, disabled children are frequently seen in categorical ways which do not lead to their real inclusion. They are often once labelled as different, excluded from mainstream society. Being categorised does not always lead to accessible services and activities, support, and acceptance. This chapter discusses the implications of being labelled “disabled” and proposes actions leading to a broader acceptance of diversity. Ideally, disabled children would like a “strategic essentialism” which only categorises them for positive resource-related reasons and not for negative and exclusionary ones.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Global HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.The Institute for Development StudiesUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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