Having a Disability in Appalachia: Political, Social, and Cultural Considerations


Having a Disability in Appalachia: Social, Political, and Cultural Considerations

Dr. Karen McComas, Principal Investigator

Sara Henson, Co-Investigator

Research Staff:  Megan Foster, Hilliary Johnson, and Jordan Lewis

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) classifies a disability as a function of both health conditions and social influences.  At a macro-systemic level, this classification is the basis for diagnostic and therapeutic treatments and benefits for individuals with disabilities that may impact quality of life. Despite the implications of the ICF’s classification (or any classification system, for that matter), individuals with disabilities do not possess the same characteristics or have similar self-concepts.  Other factors can influence individuals on a micro-systemic level, including their culture. Of particular interest in this study are those individuals who live in cultures rooted in tradition with limited and unequal distribution of resources (e.g., financial, human, and medical), such as the Appalachian culture. Given the relationship between the ICF classification and the micro-system of an individual with a disability, it stands to reason that it is important to learn more about how factors in people’s micro-systems influence their lives.

The primary aim of this study is to develop an understanding of the lives and experiences of persons with disabilities.  A secondary aim of this study is to explore those lives and experiences in the context of a micro-system that includes being from Appalachia.