Skip to main content
The Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange

Home > Bibliography > Afghanistan and Pakistan > Disability and Deafness in the Middle East: Introduction

Disability and Deafness in the Middle East

A bibliography comprising materials with technical, cultural and historical relevance to child and adult impairments, disabilities and deafness, incapacity, mental disorders, special needs, social and educational responses and rehabilitation; partly annotated.

Version 5.1, June 2008. Revised with 700 more items, and some annotations extended. Now contains c. 1750 items, and replaces version 3.10 (online since July 2002).

M. Miles (Compiler/annotator)
West Midlands, UK

For a list of abbreviations used in this document, consult the glossary.


ability, disability, impairment, handicap, development, difference, diversity, disease, health, capacity, incapacity, physically disabled, paraplegic, epilepsy, leprosy, elephantiasis, ophthalmia, cataract, trachoma, child, adult, ageing, elderly, Middle East, Arab world, alms, anthropology, archaeology, charity, education, ethnography, history, inclusion, law, medicine, philanthropy, poverty, psychology, rehabilitation, religion, social service, sociology, therapy, welfare, ancient, antiquity, medieval, Anatolia, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Persia, Sumer, Mediterranean, Ottoman, Hittite, Arabia, Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Yemen, Christian, Islam, Jewish, Judaism, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Avesta, Bible, hadith, Mishnah, Qur'an, Torah.

Historical English Terms

abnormal, defect, deformed, blind, deaf, dumb, mute, fits, eunuch, paralysed, infirm, dwarf, humpback, hunchback, crooked, cripple, lame, maimed, mutilated, leper, cretin, fool, idiot, imbecile, lunatic, mad, mental, retarded, subnormal.

Languages involved

Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, (Assyrian, Babylonian), Demotic, Dutch, Egyptian, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hittite, Italian, Latin, Persian, Spanish, Turkish, Sumerian; Sign Languages of Deaf people.

General Introduction

This revised, retitled, updated and partly annotated bibliography, now lists c. 1750 items. It aims to record the cumulative formal knowledge base in the disability field in countries of the Middle East, especially Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and some smaller neighbours. The "technical, cultural and historical relevance" of the sub-title is understood to extend broadly through impairment and disability in connection with Middle Eastern infant care and nutrition, child rearing and developmental norms, children's health and education, gender differentiation, mental health care, employment, some anthropological, medical, psychological and legal studies, disability prevention, and allied fields of practice and study. In fact, the bibliography extends to disability across all age groups; but the original focus (about ten years ago) on childhood disability in the Middle East explains why a few items on ‘normal’ child-raising are included. One cannot understand childhood disability without having some background knowledge of the ordinary, non-disabled child in the region.


Materials based outside the Middle East, while possibly having indirect relevance, are not listed unless available in Middle Eastern languages or adapted for regional cultures. Very few magazine or newspaper articles appear. Limits have been placed on modern biomedical coverage, because such items are already likely to appear, many with abstracts, in the open online catalogues of the U.S. National Libraries of Medicine; or may be listed in the earlier U.S. Surgeon-General's Index Catalog from the 1800s to 1940s, now also searchable online. There is much to be learnt from those vast catalogues of modern and earlier biomedical work. The CIRRIE Database of International Rehabilitation Research (‘international’ in the sense of having been conducted outside the U.S.) already has many direct links with thousands of items in the big biomedical databases).

Geography & Politics

No single, historically and politically agreed term designates the area approximately from Istanbul and Alexandria in the west, to the coast of Yemen and Oman and the eastern border of Iran. The term ‘Middle East’ gives a broad idea, and it includes people with many cultural similarities and differences and much shared history of civilisation and conflict. Some might extend the area to include Afghanistan and Pakistan, for which a bibliography (2004) of 800 disability-related items now appears separately at:

Equally, the area might be extended to cover e.g. Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti. A bibliography (2006) of 500 disability-related items from the last five countries (with Egypt) now appears for "North East Africa" at:

In fact, a few items from further west along the coast of North Africa have been included here, where they seem to have pertinence across the Arab nations. Disability crosses all frontiers, and ‘disability politics’ is about re-organising communities and societies in ways that enable more people to participate in their family, neighbourhood, community and society with whatever sort of body and mind they have, irrespective of their nationality, culture, religion, or the historical actions of governments. In the present bibliography, no political or religious position is asserted, implied or endorsed by the inclusion of any material, nor implied by omission. Nevertheless, some prioritisation of focus has taken place. In materials from the 6th century CE onward, the bibliography has a greater focus on work done by Muslims, or in Muslim-majority countries and their historical forerunners, while that done in historical Judaism and Christianity and by modern adherents of these faiths in the Middle East has a smaller representation here, compared with the amount of literature actually available from these sources. While updating the original web bibliography, during 2007 and early 2008, a little more has been added on historical and modern Jewish practice relating to disability. The Christian representation remains comparatively small.

This ‘prioritisation of focus’ is not intended with any political motivation or religious partiality. There have indeed been extensive academic studies and commentaries of Jewish and Christian texts that derive from Middle Eastern history, and in which disability and disabled people have some place. A considerable quantity exists of reference works, such as lexicons of ancient Middle Eastern languages and encyclopedias of Middle Eastern cultures, which have been developed mainly by Europeans and North Americans, and which incidentally contain detailed studies on particular ‘disability words’. Indexes, bibliographies and databases already exist for locating most of those items in several European languages. A few items from works such as the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament have been included in this update (see e.g. Clements; and Wächter et al.) as tokens of this kind of material; and a few from German lexicons and encyclopedias that are comparatively neglected in the anglophone world. If a full survey were made, it could double the size of the bibliography. Yet that kind of Judaeo-Christian, Latin, Greek and Hebrew material is already reasonably well documented and accessible, to those with an interest in the field. The equivalent material specifically from the Muslim world, much of it being in Arabic, Turkish or Persian, and not readily available in European languages, has been very little known to westerners, and is accessible with difficulty even in the countries of origin. That is why this bibliography focuses more particularly on materials that address the Muslim heartlands; yet of course it cannot properly do so without taking some account of earlier Jewish and Christian contributions, since historically the developments were bound up together and were practically impossible to separate. The latter material is therefore welcomed, but not given a prominence proportional to its actual quantity.

Balance and imbalance

Adults and children with disabilities have complete lives, involving every sphere of human activity (even if some specific activities are out of reach for particular individuals). Thus, a database of formal knowledge on disability, people with disabilities, and the responses of society to disability, could in theory extend across the entire range of human of human knowledge and activity. In reality, what has been written with regard to disability is comparatively limited, and tends to fall within several broad categories, such as child development, medical and educational responses, rehabilitation, vocational activities, law, biography and autobiography, travel, literature (e.g. novels, drama, poetry), religion, anthropology, sociology, government planning reports and archives, advocacy, etc The day-to-day, hour-by-hour lives led by people with disabilities, and the ordinary participation in them by family members, neighbours and local officials, i.e. almost 100% of the ‘present reality’, generally have very little direct documentation or discussion. In that respect, their daily lives are similar to those of the great majority of the population, who are little known or completely unknown to the creators of ‘formal, public knowledge’. A small amount of ‘detailed real life’ is reported by anthropologists and ethnographers, or may be described in autobiographies or novels, or even occasionally portrayed in film or video.

Prominent within the ‘politics of disability’ will be the efforts to achieve a greater and more accurate representation of ‘life with disability’ within publicly available knowledge; while at the same time efforts are made for people with disabilities to appear within the common knowledge of ‘ordinary humankind’, living lives very similar to everyone else, eating, drinking, learning, applying useful skills, entering into relationships, using books and telephones, having fun, experiencing sorrow, raising children, earning money, entering old age. A vast amount of this experience has practically no documentation, or only the lightest sketching, among the 1700 items in the present bibliography. Even among what has been sketched, a considerable part has been written by foreigners, who saw and wrote down things that were too familiar for local people even to notice, let along to record; yet the visitors' recorded comments may be superficial, and a better balance would be achieved only if their remarks were commented on, in turn, by local observers. Similarly the archives and reports of rulers in earlier times, and governments now, may show very little on disability, as compared with the reports of some foreign agency that starts a disability service in one city, and records in detail the activities and benefits that it has initiated. The discerning reader will keep in mind that some imbalances of representation are almost inevitable in a bibliography such as the present one, which puts macro-efforts and micro-efforts side by side merely by the alphabetical order of authors' names.

Historical Materials

Many historical items are listed, which can contribute significantly to understanding the present, and possible directions forward. Those within recent memory indicate the fields of professional interest and the rate and direction of their growth during the period 1971 to 2007 under various influences. Around 45% of the items in the bibliography, listed in the last two sections with a brief introduction, comprise more distant historical materials of the Middle East from 1751 to 1970 and from Antiquity to 1750, as an essential and fascinating part of the cultural background. This earlier material has more annotation (and so takes about 60% of the total word-count), to enable potential readers to find the disability-related parts that are sometimes hidden in odd corners or footnotes, and also to indicate some cultural features that might be less easily understood nowadays. The dates and periods indicated above do not correspond with any political events, since battles and changes of rulers seldom seem to make much difference to the ‘world of disability’. The periods are chosen intuitively to correspond with an idea of historical movements in knowledge.

The retrievable historical-cultural heritage of the region was being shaped over perhaps seven or eight millennia, and continues to have powerful effects on many aspects of modern life; yet the experience of health and disability in the daily lives of the vast majority of people living before 1970 is already becoming a distant memory for those from that era who are still alive. It may be little known or understood by the younger generations, and is not easy to reconstruct in a meaningful way. Yet without some knowledge about the past, it is hard to understand how things are working now, or to perceive the possible directions into the future.

‘Blind antiquity’

Knowledge of the still more distant material from antiquity is normally confined to historians and archaeologists; yet it does indicate that disabled people have managed to ‘get a life’ in this region over very long periods; and there has been a wide range of social responses to disability. As noted in the Introduction to the North East Africa bibliography, "evidence from the history of Egypt exhibits a remarkable continuum, with blind musicians in deep antiquity (see Manniche; Lichtheim); the blind theologian and teacher Didymus at Alexandria in the 4th century (Lascaratos; Weerakkody); blind cantors in the early Coptic church, and a recent revival of this tradition (Ragheb Moftah); blind muezzins and Qur'an reciters being trained at Al-Azhar from the 12th to the 20th century (Crecelius; Dodge; Lane; Heyworth-Dunn); the appraisal of socially valued roles for some blind people in Egypt under the Mamluks (Malti-Douglas); medical hazards for muezzins giving the call to prayer (Larrey); use of Lucas's method of teaching blind people to read in the 1850s (London Society) and of formal schooling for blind children in the 1870s (Abbate Pacha); and the remarkable life of the 20th century educator and statesman Taha Husayn (Goldschmidt; Husayn; Kashif; Malti-Douglas)." To those items, the present bibliography adds notes from Goitein (1967-1993), Gillespie (1964-1967) and others, indicating that blind men in the pre-Christian and the medieval Jewish communities of Egypt had a role in memorisation and cantillation of their revered texts, in the community centres of law, culture and education, comparable to those of the Coptic Christians and the Muslims; also articles on al-Batanouni, the excellent blind cantor chosen by Ragheb Moftah in the 1920s for his cantillation to be recorded in musical notation (Halim 1999; Mansour 2007). Other countries have some illuminating ‘spots’ of blind persons' historical activity, including the Sumerian ‘creation story’ where a blind person was directed to a musical vocation (Black et al. 1998-2006, t.1.1.2 ‘Enki and Ninmah’); but few, if any, have evidence of multiple strands of such activities through four millennia, as found in Egypt.

‘Deaf antiquity’

The present bibliography also extends the regional history of deaf people, with one of the Middle East's earliest named and located deaf women, a property owner named Apynchis, in Egypt during the first century CE (Husselman et al., 1944). A Mesopotamian seal may even depict a named deaf woman servant more than two thousand years BC (Frayne 1993) though some details are rather obscure.

Still more significant is the existence of Hittite cuneiform sources (of which a dozen are referred to below) recording that some kings and temples had deaf servants taking part in household activities and ritual ceremonies in the later half of the 2nd millennium BC (Chicago Hittite Dictionary, various dates; Goedegebuure 2007; Goetze 1970; Güterbock 1979; Jestin 1937; Klinger 1996; Melchert 2007; Oettinger 1976; Otten 1971; Otten & Soucek 1969; Puhvel 1979, 1983-; Rüster & Neu 1989; Soysal 2001; Taggar-Cohen 2002). In at least five distinct texts a "Chief Deaf Man" is recorded, suggesting that several deaf men were working in a team or group, under the authority of this chief or supervisor. Much of the work listed sounds like humble daily service, cleaning and washing down floors, bringing the king's hand-washing water, preparing and serving food and drink for the king and queen. Yet the rituals and ceremonies, which provide most of the contexts where deaf men appeared and played their parts, transform the mundane tasks into something higher: the cleansing activities were a necessary part of the ritual; food and drink were supplied for the king to offer to various deities. In one text, "The deaf man gives the cup to the king; the king libates [pours a libation to the deity]. The chief deaf man libates into the pipe, then performs the sanctifying rite over the king. KUB XX 24 iii 6ff" (Goetze 1970, p. 78). Here, it seems that a ‘deaf team’ is shown taking part with the king in a ceremony believed to be in the presence of the gods to whom libation was made. The chief deaf man appears to have a role of some importance, performing upon the king the ‘sanctifying rite’. (Possibly the ‘pipe’ referred to was one of the ceramic ritual pipes, shaped like an extended arm and hand holding a cup, which have been found by archaeologists in Anatolia).

Earlier scholars of ancient Hittite history left a few footnotes on the deaf participants, questioning whether they really were deaf, wondering what they were doing, and admitting that their role is not clear. More recently, the deafness has been accepted as such, but the historians still sound puzzled. Soysal (2001), reviewing the currently known texts, also lists two that involve a deaf woman, each apparently in situations of abuse. These Hittite cuneiform texts on clay tablets seem to provide well-grounded evidence that extends Deaf History back into the second millennium BC, many centuries earlier than previous solid evidence could stretch.

New ground

In the present revision, a modest effort has been made to increase the listing of work in German, as far as the compiler came upon such work, and could understand what it was about. Still more adventurously, an attempt is made to provide more clues to disability in the deeper antiquity of Egyptology, Assyriology and allied fields (in which it is hard to make progress without reading German...) Visiting these esoteric fields unarmed and without native guides, might be diagnosed as a serious form of madness; the excuse offered is that even a brief excursion is fascinating. Significant chunks of evidence for disability history are scattered here and there (in English, French or German) waiting to be pieced together, thanks to the efforts of scholars of Middle Eastern antiquity who ‘noticed’ some aspect of disability and wrote it into their papers, without building it together into a connected discourse. For example, it is widely believed that a scholarly interest in disability, in a personal and social rather than a medical sense, began to surface only in the 1970s. Yet sixty years earlier, Harri Holma (1914) produced his detailed linguistic study (in German, published in an obscure Finnish academic series dignified with a lengthy Latin name) on the origins of Assyrian-Babylonian personal names that seem to involve impairment terms (mostly on the pattern "quttulu") from Mesopotamia up to 3000 years ago. Perhaps anyone's impaired limb or bodily abnormality might feel more of a personal and social construct than just a medical feature, when that person goes through life carrying a name such as "Cripple", "Baldhead", "Dumbo" or "Humpback". [See also brief notes by Nöldeke 1902, and Torczyner 1910, on a comparable feature in Hebrew; Margoliouth 1917, similarly on Arabic names; Ranke 1952, on Egyptian; and a contrasting view on Sumerian by Langdon 1917. Gray 1917, on Hebrew names, mentions defect nicknames, but shows other names on the pattern "kattul".] Linguistic studies by Speiser (1951, 1955), pursued individual terms more closely, for example, teasing out words for a "state of restlessness verging on distress" to get a good fit for "One who twitches, Spastic". MacRae (1943/1963) studying Akkadian names from Nuzi, noted the problems of identifying meaning in many quttulu pattern names). To learn that, two or three thousand years ago, the ancient Middle Eastern civilisations not only had such naming and nicknaming practices, but also used some euphemistic, reversed, or ironic terms for disability (Marcus 1980), opens windows beyond the mere evidence that they had medical labels and quasi-religious explanations for many disabling conditions.

Mesopotamian skirmishing

Investigation of the Sumerian and Akkadian medical or medico-magical labels alone was a slowly growing field through the 20th century. Differences of interpretation were pursued mostly in the footnotes of scholarly journals, the vigour of argument being often restrained by an ever-present awareness that the total of transcribed and edited medical texts was modest and scattered, and the meanings of many ancient terms remained seriously uncertain, being patched together from odd hints, possibilities, more (or less) inspired guesses, and conjectural comparisons with medical and non-medical terms from other ancient civilisations. Furthermore, technical materials selected (and edited) for preservation in ancient libraries might be quite distant from the informal thoughts of ordinary Mesopotamians ‘on the street’ a century or a thousand years earlier. However, work with a different approach, proceeding at the close of the 20th century, has recently come down a lengthy publishing pipeline in two hefty volumes by Scurlock & Andersen (2005) and Scurlock (2006), listed below, which collect an extensive database of evidence on medical and magical terms, classifications and lore, based on practically all the available medical primary sources.

The latter publications, which are currently being inspected and weighed in the Assyriological world, attempt to move boldly into a new era of greater assurance, in which many questions may be regarded as settled. The authors claim to have avoided looking at other scholars' work when first translating all the medical texts (with the substantial exceptions of noting the "basic meaning suggested by non-medical context" given in the major dictionaries and "as refined by subsequent scholarship"), so that their own work and thinking should not be ‘prejudiced’. Only after their own work had been drafted, refined and completed did they "begin to look at the extensive secondary literature of the last fifty years on ancient Mesopotamian medicine", and to "note agreements and disagreements, and to change our opinions where we found ourselves convinced" (Scurlock & Andersen 2005, pp. xvii-xix).

This frankly stated methodology may have had some merit in breaking loose from any herd instinct to look in a particular direction, or from being over-influenced by others' opinions — though the notion that scholars in Assyriology have always deferred humbly to one another's view would be quite amusing. A danger in remaining unaware of others' opinions (if that were really possible during many years of work, including published reviews by Scurlock of other scholars' Mesopotamian body-related work back to 1996), could be that when one's own opinion has been consolidated by repeatedly visiting it, and one's mind has thus been made up, the eventual encounter with contrary evidence and argument could be all the less welcome, possibly leading to some difficulty in taking on board the nuances of other scholars' work, or to mistaking tentative suggestions for bald assertions. Considering only some of the difficult disability-related terms such as serious skin diseases (or ‘leprosy’), epilepsy, and mental disorders, where Scurlock & Andersen do skirmish in the endnotes with different views from scholars past and present who worked for years on Mesopotamian disability-related conditions, it appears that the danger of overlooking nuances of argument, and of lecturing other scholars as though they were muddle-headed undergraduates, has not entirely been avoided. It is surprising to find so many confident generalisations about what people thought, meant and believed in Mesopotamia several thousand years ago, and some dramatic claims about Mesopotamian skills in diagnosis and therapy as compared with the (supposed) poverty and ignorance of medicine in later civilisations. However, every field of study has methods of handling different viewpoints, which may look surprising to the stray visitor. The extensive travels and labours of Scurlock, gathering and double-checking large amounts of cuneiform text and producing it in an orderly and well-indexed fashion, should certainly facilitate further work over the coming decades, which may lead to a broader and more solidly grounded consensus.


Annotations have been added at different times and for various purposes over ten years, so they are not uniform in nature, length or format. They are intended to highlight disability or deafness, regardless of the merits of other topics that may occur in the book or article. They are given mostly on historical work which may be harder to obtain. In some cases the annotation may draw attention to only one paragraph or footnote in a book, which would be tedious to search for if no page number were shown. No disrespect is intended toward the remaining contents of the article, book, or revered text, which may be perfectly interesting and worthy. Another reader might well find something different to highlight.

None of the annotations should be used as a substitute for reading what the author(s) actually wrote, which might evoke a different response in another reader.

Search, Access & Supply

It is hoped that the PDF files of the present bibliography will be fairly simple to download. The facility to search PDFs for keywords is provided in the software Acrobat 8.0 (a version that is widely used and freely available on the web) or later.

Ideally, one or more dedicated libraries should exist, containing copies of all materials listed in the present bibliography and similar disability-related bibliographies for other regions. At present, no such library exists. Further, the present compiler regrets that he is not in a position to respond to requests for supply of documents, many of which he has read but does not possess, or has received under a specific agreement not to copy onward. The task of access and supply must remain with librarians and archivists across the world, gaining access as best they can for their members, customers and enquirers. However, a growing amount of historical text, translation and learned discussion is now becoming accessible on the internet, whether as full-text books open online after expiry of copyright, or in limited-page access (e.g. via Google Books), or in older journals accessible to the academic community (e.g. via JStor), or in authors' ‘raw text’ placed on the web with the consent of publishers who will copyright the ‘refereed and edited’ version. It is sometimes worthwhile to persevere with search engines through many combinations of names, title words, subject words, using terms in several languages, including the disability terms that were commonly used in earlier periods, though they are not regarded as ‘politically correct’ now.

As an example of the latter, in a keyword search of translated materials in the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (Black et al. 1998-2006, under ‘Antiquity to 1750’ section), the English term ‘blind’ appears in 6 paragraphs; crazy (1 paragraph), cripple (10), deformed (3), deaf (4), disfigured (1), dolt (1), freak (1), fool (20), idiot (2), paralyse (7), weak (38). Terms such as ‘mad’ give 467 hits, mostly in words like ‘made’, while ‘lame’ gives 170, mostly for ‘lament’, ‘lamentation’, ‘flame’ etc In this particular system, the search term gets highlighted in the hits, so to find 10 useful ‘lame’ hits does not take long; otherwise, ‘lame man’ finds 5 examples and ‘mad man’ gives 2 hits. Abbreviation can extend the range, e.g. ‘ignora’ finds ignoramus, as well as ignorance, ignorant; ‘lepr’ find leprosy (1) and leprous (3); ‘muddle’ finds muddle-headed, muddled brain, muddled judgement; ‘stup’ (4) includes stupid and stupor. See also eunuch, ugly, unclean, etc. Many of these terms, and the ‘deficit model’ supposedly underlying them, might be considered insulting in current American English; yet they are part of the English language used over many centuries by translators across the world, and so they appear in the texts and documents. Nor is it the case that every disability-related word in antiquity was blunt and short. In the case of the Sumerian cosmological tale of ‘Enki and Ninmah’ (mentioned above) in the Electronic Corpus, a search for the term ‘blind’ would not find the case of the man created blind, who was put to musical activity. The translators correctly stayed with their text, and wrote "one who turned back (?) the light, a man with constantly opened eyes (?)", with cautious question marks included. In context, it is reasonable to interpret this one as "a blind man" (as do Bottéro & Kramer, q.v., ‘aveugle’), bearing in mind some known euphemisms recorded elsewhere in the Middle East (Marcus 1980). Yet some uncertainty must be retained until a good deal more evidence has been compiled and sifted by specialists in Mesopotamian languages.

Flaws, Apologies & Technical Tweaks

The publication status and original language of some items is uncertain. An ‘inclusive’ approach has been taken. The present revised and extended bibliography is circulated as a working tool, with apologies for any errors, for the absence of Arabic, Persian, Turkish or cuneiform scripts, and for other linguistic flaws. Transliteration of Arabic, Turkish and Persian names and titles in English has not been standardised, as authors and publishers have followed many different practices. For the present Internet version, many accents and diacritical marks have been omitted, as they still tend to be misrepresented either by the available coding systems or by differences of screen or print software across the world. This would be a serious defect if anyone were to use the annotations as primary sources for linguistic studies, which obviously they are not!

Details of further relevant materials (subject to limits and hedges suggested above) will be welcomed by the compiler, and notice of any errors found in the bibliography. The material may be copied for individual or institutional use, but not for commercial purposes. Short direct quotations are shown from some copyrighted works, under the usual policy of "fair use" in an academic context. These could have been paraphrased, but most authors prefer that their actual words should be shown, rather than a paraphrase which might alter the meaning. All direct quotations remain under the copyright protection of the original, which should be duly acknowledged and treated with respect.

When data or comments are enclosed in square brackets [ ], some caution is indicated - there may be an uncertainty about a date, or a spelling; a possible title translation has not been verified; or the comment may be the compiler's inserted explanatory note within a quotation, which should be distinguished from what the original author wrote; or it may indicate the compiler's discussion of some point which is more of a personal opinion than an impartial annotation. The square brackets may also be employed more innocently, where a parenthesis must be shown within an existing parenthesis. In some transliterated Hittite material, authors use various kinds of brackets, indicating peculiarities of cuneiform text and transliteration, which cannot be reproduced here.


Names preceded by Al- or El- are indexed by the first roman letter of the name following. Those prefixed with Abu-, Bin, Ibn etc, are indexed as such, under A, B, and I. Where an author's first name is available, it has been given in full in the first (only) of any list of that author's works, whether or not it actually appeared as such in the original or subsequent publication.


Dates are ‘CE’, i.e. the Common Era or Christian calendar, unless shown as "BC" (Before Christ), with apologies to those who would have preferred other calendars to be represented.

Links and URLs

These were all checked and were found active on 18 June 2008, apart from a few where it is now stated ‘Link no longer active’. In some cases, the listed item is still on the site shown, but ‘navigation’ is required, using a search box, or index. In some cases, it may be quicker to google using a distinctive phrase from the title.

A Better Bibliographical Future?

The compiler admits to fishing at (or beyond) the margins of his competence, and is conscious that large holes exist in the present bibliography and the similar regional bibliographies (Southern Africa, North-East Africa, Afghanistan-Pakistan, East Asia) on this page kindly hosted by CIRRIE. Ideally, such work might be taken over by several interested scholars in each geographical region, and given a more organised construction, depth, coverage of materials in local and regional languages, a more uniform pattern of annotation, and much stronger internal and external linking. The question of using a ‘database’ format might also come up (with some gains and some heavy losses). The compiler would welcome any more organised, professional efforts along such lines. Major dictionaries, encyclopedias and reference tools have mostly continued for generations, gathering strength and incorporating private collections. The case of bibliographies is not so clear. The field of biomedical and health sciences (with medical history hanging in there, and disability history barely visible) has probably the world's largest bibliographies, which are among humankind's greatest achievements in organising knowledge for rapid global dissemination, testing, refinement and application. They also give colossal coverage of disability and mental or cognitive disorders from a biomedical and health perspective, but much less so for non-medical, socio-historical aspects. In the international non-medical disability field one major example is the International Bibliography on Sign Language and Deafness, on the web, produced by a team at the University of Hamburg, with more than 30,000 entries and a monthly update. In all ‘Western’ disability-related bibliographies, the coverage of Asia, the Middle East and Africa is comparatively weak, and work not written in a major European language is often neglected. Historical material, which may hang on odd comments and footnotes in obscure texts, hardly competes for a slot in a big database; and if it gets there, remains practically hidden. There is much room for improvement, and the tools for handling and giving access to knowledge are becoming more powerful every month. The challenge is for the human mind to extend its vision, and put the tools to work.


Additions to the bibliography have kindly been suggested or provided at different times, directly or indirectly, by: F Albrecht, G Berkson, M Bosman, J Carey, L Conrad, M Ghaly, G Malki, H Payne with Healthlink Worldwide Database, K Pietrosanti, M Plackett (RNID), J Racy, K Richards, PL Richards, S Scalenghe, K Sprick, K Stuckey, M Turmusani, and N Walls. Many further debts in the historical section are acknowledged in the annotations; and of course the bibliographies or references in many listed items have contributed. Some materials have been found in University and specialist departmental libraries of Birmingham, Bristol, London, Oxford and Warwick, the British Library, the Royal National Institute for the Blind, the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, the (former) Selly Oak Colleges, and the Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine. Web catalogues and databases of some universities in Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as CIRRIE, COPAC and the U.S. Library of Congress and National Libraries of Medicine have also been accessed. Inter-Library Loan departments of the Birmingham and the Dudley Library Services have made very useful contributions. Data has been cross-checked by Google (and Google Book) searches of sites too numerous to mention. I am most grateful for information from these resources; and for advice from K Sprick on some German terms.

The kind assistance of John Stone, Marcia Daumen and Dan Conley is much appreciated, in publishing this bibliography on the CIRRIE site at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The greatest acknowledgement must be to the compiler's longsuffering wife and sole ‘funding agency’, Christine Miles, whose professional teaching and advisory work has financed and supported some 20 years of disability-related studies, bibliographies and publications. Her personal ‘fund’ of working languages has also been drawn upon, e.g. being woken up at 2 o'clock in the morning by a demand to combine her knowledge of Urdu, Pushto and Arabic so as to work out a possible meaning for a phrase in Persian that is impeding the onward march of knowledge. ("Must be a lot of common roots there, with Persian sitting right in the middle... Just have a go at it!") The present bibliography was begun in the 1990s, when Christine made a number of trips to Syria to share her skills with teachers and school managers working with disabled children, as part of the social and cultural development program of the Karim Rida Said Foundation, under the direction of Catherine Roe and Marieke Bosman. From an interest in discovering 20 or 30 references to literature on disability in modern Syria, the field has extended hugely in all directions...

Main Abbreviations & Symbols

c. circa (around, approximately)
Cf compare
CE Christian Era or Common Era (Christian calendar)
Ch. chs chapter, chapters
CTH Catalogue des Textes Hittites (E. Laroche, 1971, Paris).
ed. eds editor, editors
J. Journal [of, of the, on, for the]
KBo Keilschrifttexte aus Boghazköi
KUB Keilschrifturkunden aus Boghazköi
Min. Ministry, Ministries [of, for]
No., no. number
p. pp. page, pages
q.v. ["see this", elsewhere in the bibliography]

# Indicates an omission. (Also used in a few works to show paragraph numbering).
[ ] See note above, under "Flaws and apologies"
{ } Some superscript parts of Hittite or Sumerian terms appear in { }

No political or religious viewpoint is intended or implied in the compilation of this bibliography

Copyright © 2008 M. Miles / CIRRIE
All materials may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes to advance educational or scientific research.

(Hosted by the Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange)