When we look at disability, there are two very different models used, called the medical and social models of disability.
The medical model looks at disability as something that needs to be fixed or changed. Disability is seen as a bad thing, even if it doesn’t cause someone pain or harm.
The social model of disability says that a person is only disabled because of society’s inaccessibility and the way it treats disability, rather than their difference.
Let’s explore the differences between the two models in more detail!
The medical model implies that a disability is a direct result of someone’s difference. In this model, if you have a limb difference, this is what makes you disabled.
Sadly, the medical model also has roots in eugenics, in which disability is seen as a fault that should be edited by medical and other treatments.
By default, it tends to look at what is ‘wrong’ with a person, rather than what they require.
When in truth, there is nothing wrong with being disabled!
Attitudes found in society, based on prejudice or stereotype can also hinder people from having equal opportunities to be part of society.
This can generate low expectations and lead to people losing control, independence and choice in their own lives.
In contrast, the social model respects disability as a completely valid part of the human experience and doesn’t try to erase it. Instead, it tries to educate people into becoming more inclusive.
This model was created by disabled people because the traditional medical model did not sufficiently explain their personal experience of disability, or assist in developing more inclusive ways of living.
It looks for ways to remove barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people so that they can be independent and equal in society while maintaining choice and control over their own lives.
This is why many disabled people prefer to use the social model because it tries to educate society to understand and cater for disability.
If disability was properly catered for, disabled people wouldn’t struggle to exist in the same way non-disabled people do.
And if we as a society started thinking and talking about access and accepting disability, being disabled wouldn’t be the issue it is now.
It’s how society views disability that shapes the way we experience disability, which is why the social model is so important!