The Main Concepts of the Social Model of Disability Originated

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The main concepts of the social model of disability originated from disabled people, it enables them to have a voice, which gives them an opportunity to respond to the medical model. The medical model was introduced by members of the medical professional in 1970. The social model has recognised particular issues experience by disabled people; it highlights their experiences of discrimination, in areas such as independent living. The social model aims to remove the barriers that society created. The model advocates that society assists disability because it does not cater for a disabled person, For example: stairs instead of a wheelchair ramp can create difficulty for a wheelchair user. Disabled people feel it is unfair to be labelled because they suffer from an impairment or physical dysfunction. The model shows that society tends to label some groups in order to conform; as a result of this, the focus is on society and not the individual with the disability or the impairment. The model works towards inclusion for the disabled and impaired, the social model was born out of the medical model, as the medical model only labelled disability and blamed the individual for having the disability. The disabled community found that the medical model was a negative portrayal of their experiences of having a disability or impairment. They responded by creating the social model, this model could be said to be a response to the medical model.

The social model is on the basis of the UPIAS (the union of the physically impaired against segregation), Michel Oliver is a Scholar of this model and believes that ‘the model was response to teach the fundamental principles of disability’ (UPIAS 1976: Clough, P, & J,Corbett 2000,). For example…………

Another scholar who is linked to the social model, believes that you see disability fundamentally as a personal tragedy or you see it as a form of oppression’ (2001a, P5:how disability is understood). As a result of these statement, the social model came about to help the healthy and functional’ people understand disability and impairment from a disabled or impaired person’s point of view.

The social model gives definitions of impairment and disability, this definition comes from the UPIAS, which has changed over years and been updated. The UPIAS believe that impairment is a functional limitation to a physical, mental or sensory impairment (johnstone, D, 1998:14). They define disability as the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life of the community or with others due to physical and social barriers.(Johnstone,D,1998:14) the model does not focus upon the individual, it focuses on society. The model examines ways in which modern society can improve (services and products) and move away from the past medical models which oppressed and discriminated against the disabled.

Vic Finklestein believed ‘it is society that disables and disabled people are an oppressed group’ (2002b:2 Thomas,C,2004). The social model believes that this is done specifically in the medical models idea of normality which excludes the disabled and impaired from society. The medical models idea of normality states that disabled people are abnormal, because they cannot always perform activities that an ‘able person’ can do. This idea is discriminating and oppressing the disabled group.

The medical model’s idea of normality states that disabled people are abnormal. Normality is said to originate from the rise of capitalism, with the need in society for an able work force. (Lorella, T, 2004). The idea of normality has a great effect on disabled people, because it is saying they cannot get a job and work which means they would not have any money to fend for themselves and this is how the disabled and impaired is subject to a life of poverty. The concept of normality, According to Oliver ‘a construct imposed on a reality where is only difference’ (lorella 2004:153). This statement summarises how...
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