This paper reviews the process and outcome of constructing a "rights model of disability" which is culturally specific to Jordan and Lebanon. The objective of the empirical part was, to survey the current level of attitudes of non-disabled people towards their disabled fellows in Jordan, and to compare the attitudes of Lebanon's university students towards five different categories of disabled people (mentally disabled people, psycho-socially disabled people, physically disabled people, hearing impaired people and visually impaired people) to highlight the variations and diversity among them. It also examined the relationship between the attitudes and various demographic and social characteristics of the respondents. The set of findings was further tested and triangulated through meta-analysis of individual views expressed in the qualitative studies.
In Jordan, the attitude of 191 randomly selected non-disabled people was studied, using a Scale of Attitudes towards Disabled Persons (SADP). The participants from 4 communities of Jordan, exhibited overall negative attitudes towards disabled people. Socio-economic-demographic characteristics showed almost no difference regarding their attitudes towards disabled people.
In Lebanon, a more complex scale, composed of four sub-scales, namely a, "Baseline Survey of Student Attitudes towards People with a Disability" was used, to survey 94 university students' attitudes towards five different categories of disabled people, and a set of indices for future comparison was constructed. The results indicated the same pattern of gradations of attitude differences (found in other countries) towards persons with physical or sensory impairments (better), intellectual impairment (middle) and mental illness (worse). The main findings of this empirical field research showed particularly negative public attitudes towards people with intellectual impairment and mental illness in Lebanon.
Finally, the validity of the proposed rights model of disability and the empirical findings of this study, were further examined and co-validated through analysis of the collective views of those who took part in the questionnaire surveys and the participatory focus group discussions, which took place in Lebanon in 2005 and 2007, and in Jordan in 2005, as well as a series of intensive on-line and/or telephone interviews of a few informants comprising of disabled persons and experts. The policy implications of the findings are discussed.
Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal, Vol 19, No 1