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The question of whom our society truly wants to protect from adverse discrimination based on bodily difference is ultimately a question for the body politic. The aim of this article, by contrast, is to use the analytical tools provided by scholars in the field of disability studies to scrutinize how lawmakers to date have understood the concept of impairment as one form of bodily difference. By viewing administrative and judicial treatments of impairment through a disability studies lens, I have sought to give the disability kaleidoscope a turn and thus to provide the reader with an altered view of impairment and, by extension, disability. The purpose of presenting this changed view is primarily to educate, rather than to persuade. In other words, it is less my aim to convince the reader that the social model or minority group model of disability is “right,” than to dispel the reader’s conviction that the medical model understanding is the only shape that the disability picture can take.

Ultimately, the article’s goal is modest: to begin an examination, and hopefully a discourse, on how the legal community understands disability — specifically disability as an illegitimate basis for discriminatory treatment.