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The Models Of Disability

The two main models of disability are the Social Model and the Medical Model. There are other models of disability, however these two are the most common due to their conflicting opinions of the disabled person and his or her needs and responsibilities.

The Social Model Of Disability 

The Social Model of disability sees the person with a disability not the disabled person. Prevention of the ‘Person’ with a disability taking an active roll in many day-to-day events and activities is the result of barriers imposed by sociality.

Such barriers are often inaccessible buildings and services as well as inaccessible transport such as trains, busses and taxis etc. 

It is the responsibility of society to adapt to meet those needs in the same way society has adapted to meet the needs of people without disabilities in areas such as getting from A to B on public transport to be able to undertake their work commitments or a lift to the 18th floor to assist when carrying their normal day-to-day workload.  

Those people above are not pitied, they are mealy assisted. People with disabilities are not looking for pity, they are simply seeking the same assistance from society to be able to achieve as near as possible the same results. 

The Social Model of disability seeks to assist people with disabilities by changing the environment in which they live, work, and play, they see the problems that society have placed in their way and appreciate the need for campaign to cure society not cure the person.  

This approach being a positive approach that does not blame the disability is of great benefit in achieving the feeling of inclusion in society instead of exclusion. 

The Medical Model Of Disability 

The medical model of disability see the ‘disability first, it sees people with disabilities as sick and in need of a cure. The Medical Model could never comprehend that a ‘Person’ with a disability may actually be happy with their life and their disabilities.

It is seen as the ‘disabled persons’ fault that they cannot participate to the same levels of those without disabilities.  

The medical model seeks to cure the disability not cure the environment that restricts them from fully participating.

The medical model sees the limitations of that persons disabilities and only believes those limitations can be bridged by means of curing the disabled person to enable they to fully participate.

The medical model has also been known as the ‘individual model’ as it places the problems and restrictions caused by disability firmly in the hands of the individual. 

Historical Reasons For Change 

In the late 1960s the Disabled Income Group (DIG) in Britain became one of the largest organisations of disabled people in the world. This inturn brought us what we now know as ‘Disability Benefit’ an imcome that helps assist people with disability to meet some of the extra cost needed in partisipating to a fuller degree.

What this achieved more than anything else was to show that it was Society that was retricting people with disabilities not the person themselves.

Not unexpectedly there was criticism of the new radical approach to disabilityFind Article, this of course came from the Medical Models ideas of disability and how they should be approached or hidden away from society rather than activly taking part. 

Thankfully we have now moved on so that the majority of people relate to disability throught the eyes of the Social Model and can see that society must change to meet their needs.

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Robin is a disability awareness trainer and DDA access auditor in the UK

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