12. Contrary to common belief, persons with disabilities can experience a good quality of life. They consistently report a quality of life as good as, or sometimes even better than, that of persons without disabilities.7 The earlier in life that the impairment is acquired, the higher the resulting quality of life reported.8 Furthermore, evidence indicates that differences in quality of life perceptions of persons with disabilities are largely associated with contextual factors such as social connectedness, employment opportunities, access to quality services and community inclusion.9 No significant differences have been found between degrees of severity of impairment. What determines the quality of life of persons with disabilities is not the impairment, but the same things that determine the quality of life of persons without a disability. As for anyone else, persons with disabilities can have fulfilling and happy lives and will also be confronted with losses and adversity, particularly in the face of discrimination, oppression and barriers.
7 See Tom Shakespeare, “Nasty, brutish, and short? On the predicament of disability and embodiment” in Disability and the Good Human Life, Jerome Bickenbach, Franziska Felder and Barbara Schmitz, eds. (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2013).
8 See Sharanjit Uppal, “Impact of the timing, type and severity of disability on the subjective wellbeing of individuals with disabilities”, Social Science & Medicine, vol. 63, No. 2 (July 2006).
9 See Ron Amundson, “Quality of life, disability, and hedonic psychology”, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, vol. 40, No. 4 (November 2010); Bernd Fellinghauer and others, “Explaining the disability paradox: a cross-sectional analysis of the Swiss general population”, BMC Public Health, vol. 12 (August 2012); and Carli Friedman and Laura VanPuymbrouck, “The impact of people with disabilities choosing their services on quality of life outcomes”, Disability and Health Journal, vol. 12, No. 2 (April 2019).