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DEMOS Project

Online Materials for Staff Disability Awareness
[Modules] : Disability Awareness

Models of disability

Fundamental to an awareness of disability is the discussion regarding two models of disability - the social model and medical model. Michael Oliver, a well known researcher/writer and campaigner in the field, has provided succinct descriptions:

The social model describes disability as...

...all the things that impose restrictions on disabled people; ranging from individual prejudice to institutional discrimination, from inaccessible public buildings to unusable transport systems, from segregated education to excluding work arrangements, and so on.

The social model has been developed in the context of disabled people forming groups and representative bodies and campaigning for change. The focus is on society to change policy, attitudes and economic discrimination against disabled people.

In contrast the medical model...

... locates the 'problem' of disability within the individual and secondly it sees the causes of this problem as stemming from the functional limitations or psychological losses which are assumed to arise from disability.

The medical model has also been called the individual model as it places the emphasis on the individual's response to impairment.

Further information

Mini-animated guide to Social vs. Medical model

Self Direction Project
[External link: Open in new browser window]

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