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Defining Disability: From a medical model to a social model of disability
The Medical Model
- Disability results from an individual person’s physicial or mental limitation.
- Definition of disability is related to biology and not the social or geographical environments. Disability is regarded as a defect or sickness.
- This model places the source of the problem within the person (intrinsic to the individual) = solutions found by focusing on the person.
- The medical model often refers to a disabled person as a victim: this can be very patronizing and offensive.
The Social Model
- The Social Model views disability as a consequence of environmental, social and attitudinal barriers that prevent people with an impairment from a maximum participation in society.
- This model centers on social barriers that keep persons with a disability from participating actively in all political and social institutions.
- This model places the source of the problem on society = solutions must focus on social change and not solely on the individual with the disability.
- This model focuses not only on physical or environmental but also other barriers of a social nature such as prejudice, stereotyping…
- “Barriers experienced by people with disabilities in society are not necessarily caused by our disabilities, but rather the result of living in a society that is designed by and for non-disabled people”.