A Peek through the Social Model of Disability

The Social Model of Disability says that it is the society that is a cause of the disability in a person with impairment or difference. The Social Model recognizes that there are people with certain psychological or physical differences but the barriers of the society make them disabled rather than their own impairment. The Social Model explains how the society prevents people with disabilities from having their own jobs and independent living.

The society does not give consideration to the people with differences and this prejudice causes the non-impaired persons to look down at the impaired persons as not normal. The Social Model of Disability evolved because of the negative attitudes and prejudiced views of the non-disabled people.

The Emergence:

The Social Model is not a diagrammatic model like other sociological and psychological models. It was a progressive concept that evolved in response to the Medical Model of Disability. It was a result of the society’s negative attitude towards the people with disabilities which made them feel isolated and demoralized. The traditional Medical Model of Disability did not illustrate their personal experience of disability or assist in easing their ways of living. As a consequence, the disabled people themselves stood up for their right and the Social Model of Disability was formed.

A Comparison of the Two Models:

The Medical Model of Disability says that the impairments or differences are due to the people themselves. The Social Model says that the disability is caused by the society. According to the Medical Model, the impairments should be fixed by the medical treatments. It looks at what is wrong with the person and not the wrongs of the society. For example, if a boy with visual impairments wants to read the newly published book so that he can participate in discussion with his sighted friends, the Medical Model will either ignore his wish or provide only a few solutions. Under the Social Model, full text audio recording will be available when the first book is published.

Basic Definitions:

The Social Model of Disability makes a sharp distinction between impairment and disability. These were the basic definitions pertaining to the Social Model that were first proposed by the UPIAS Union of Physically impaired Against Segregation:

Impairment: lacking part or all of a limb, or having a defective limb, organ or mechanism of the body.

Disability: the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organization which takes little or no account of people who have physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities.

According to these definitions, impairment is only a bodily state compromising any physical or cognitive malfunctioning. Whereas the ways in which the society arranges its basic activities like work, leisure or transport as well as the attitude it shows towards the impaired people gives rise to disability.

The type of society in which people with disabilities live has a profound effect on how their disability is structured and experienced. People with disabilities were living in a disabling world but with the evolution of Social Model of Disability they were granted some facilities to live as full and free citizens.

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