SOAS Disability Equality Scheme 2010 - 2012
Brief summary of three MODELS OF DISABILITY
The Charity Model of disability
The Charity Model casts the disabled person forever in the “poor unfortunate” role. It emphasises and encourages dependence on others rather than independence – one might say it is a form of “killing with kindness” since if this is taken to extremes the disabled person may lose those life skills they had and become increasingly dependent.
The disabled person is represented as “brave” and “admirable” solely because they live with their impairment, an object of pity and the focus of attempts to extort money from others in order to address the person’s extensive and expensive needs. There is little or no recognition of the potential for independence or of the role of the disabled person in selecting the services they need or want.
The Medical Model of Disability
Our society often considers disability to be a tragedy for the individual and a burden for the family and society. This is based on the ‘medical model’ of disability. This model focuses on the lack of physical, sensory or mental functioning, and uses a clinical way of describing an individual’s disability. There are certain ‘norms’ in development and in functioning against which the person is judged – the focus is on what they cannot do, rather than what they can do.
This model leads to a dehumanising view, where only the nature and severity of the impairment is important, together with the extent to which the difference can be put right or minimised (cured or corrected).
Some medical and other professionals are uncomfortable with disability, either because the condition cannot be “cured” and represents a persistent “failure” by the health professions, or because of the role those professions may have had in the aetiology (cause) of the condition / impairment (e.g. brain damage resulting from a badly handles birth process).
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