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In the early modern period there was a shift to seeking biological causes for physical and mental differences, as well as heightened interest in demarcating categories: for example, Ambroise Pare, in the sixteenth century, wrote of "monsters", "prodigies", and "the maimed".

The European Enlightenment's emphases on knowledge derived from reason and on the value of natural science to human progress helped spawn the birth of institutions and associated knowledge systems that observed and categorized human beings; among these, the ones significant to the development of today's concepts of disability were asylums, clinics, and, prisons.

Or the term may serve to refer to the identity of disabled people.

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The discussion over disability's definition arose out of disability activism in the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1970s, which challenged how the medical concept of disability dominated perception and discourse about disabilities.

Debates about proper terminology and their implied politics continue in disability communities and the academic field of disability studies.

Contemporary concepts of disability are rooted in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century developments.

Foremost among these was the development of clinical medical discourse, which made the human body visible as a thing to be manipulated, studied, and transformed.

It gauges one's ability to perform the physical tasks of daily life and the ease with which these tasks are performed.

PFC declines with advancing age to result in frailty, cognitive disorders or physical disorders, all of which may lead to labeling individuals as disabled.In some countries, the law requires that disabilities are documented by a healthcare provider in order to assess qualifications for disability benefits.Contemporary understandings of disability derive from concepts that arose during the West's scientific Enlightenment; prior to the Enlightenment, physical differences were viewed through a different lens.A disability is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these.It substantially affects a person's life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person's lifetime.At the end of the Second World War, with the example of Nazi eugenics, eugenics faded from public discourse, and increasingly disability cohered into a set of attributes that medicine could attend to – whether through augmentation, rehabilitation, or treatment.

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