Keywords: Interability communication, Social Identity Theory, Communication

Accommodation Theory, Intergroup Contact Theory, Interactive Acculturation Model

More than 50 years ago, Meyerson (1948) urged researchers to develop theoretical

frameworks for studying issues related to disability. These theories were meant to go

beyond viewing disability as a biological classification and instead frame disability as a

social issue. Subsequently, researchers in the areas of rehabilitation, psychology, special

education, and sociology responded with a plethora of disability-related theories. Some

examples include systems theory, which examines the effects of disabilities on families

(Patterson, 1991; Seligman & Darling, 1997); object relations, which describes

personality developments of people with disabilities (Thomas & Garske, 1995); drive

theory, which explains reactions to disability (Thomas, 1994); contact theory, which

describes attitudes toward people with physical disabilities (Tripp, French, & Sherrill,

1995); and attachment theory, which focuses on the limited exploration of the world by

people with disabilities (Clegg & Lansdall-Welfare, 1995). Most recent are attempts to

integrate medical and psychological models of disability to explain behavior toward

people with disabilities (Johnston, 1996). These theories have guided research and

increased understanding of the issues related to persons with disabilities, but only in the

last 20 years have theories emerged that specifically target communication between

people with and without disabilities. In this chapter, we review the literature related to

theories of communication between people with and without disabilities, which we term

interability communication, and in doing so attempt to explain, via interability

communication theory (ICT), how psychological and sociological variables affect

communication that occurs in interability situations.