Disability Through the Life Course

Tamar Heller, PhD
Sarah Parker Harris, PhD


The recently published book "Disability Through the Life Course" by Tamar Heller (RRTCADD researcher) and Sarah Parker Harris, from the Institute on Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), explores topics central to the lives of people with disabilities across the life course. This work is part of The SAGE Reference Series on Disability, edited by Gary Albrecht,(UIC). In this book, the life course approach assumes that, beginning prenatally, events occurring early in life affect later periods in one's life. It recognizes that development does not necessarily proceed in neat stages and that impairments interact with social determinants (e.g., culture and socioeconomic status) and environmental aspects (e.g., services and supports) across the life course, resulting in differing outcomes for people. The disability studies approach adds to a life course perspective by bringing in the concepts of disability identity, societal attitudes, the lived experience of people with disabilities and the social and political contexts affecting their lives. In addition to providing an overall theoretical and historical background, this book addresses disability across the life course through delineation of various age phases from pre-natal periods to death. Cross-cutting issues highlighted are: family; health; policy, legislation, and service; and self-determination and participation.