Medieval accounts of disability by and large (though not universally) defend what is now labeled the “religio-moral” construction of disability: seeing an individual's disability as a punishment for that individual's sin.
Unsurprisingly, such models are not much in favor among contemporary disability theorists for a number of reasons, among which we might include the unacceptable thought that an individual with disabilities somehow deserves those disabilities. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) accepts some version of this theory, but one rather different from the standard one (or at least, from what is now generally understood as the religio-moral model). Aquinas sees physical impairments—things that constitute a subclass of what he labels “bodily defects”—fundamentally as punishments for original sin. He is (generally) very careful to distance his account of defects from notions of individual punishment. (When he is not, it is because of pressure from Scriptural sources—though as we shall see below he believes that by and large the Bible, too, explicitly rejects the view that disability could be a punishment for individual sin.) So whatever we think of punishment models more generally, Aquinas's certainly removes one of the least appealing aspects of such models as typically understood. And Aquinas is careful, too, to associate many features of the human condition—not just those identified as a certain subclass of defects – with corporate punishment for original sin. To this extent, his account of physical impairments tends to normalize such impairments, and to de-emphasize their distance from other features of post-lapsarian human existence. While I doubt that what Aquinas says about bodily defects would satisfy many contemporary disability theorists, it seems to me that parts of his accout—and not least this normalization strategy—may appeal to more theologically-inflected accounts of the human condition.