19.1.3  The social model

The social model of disability views people with disabilities as being disabled less by their impairment than by society’s inadequate response to their specific needs. The social model emphasises that:

  • Disability is best thought of as a social problem.
  • The problem is not the person with disabilities or their impairment, but the unequal and discriminatory way they are treated by society.
  • The solution lies in removing the barriers that restrict the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in the social life of the community.

The emphasis on the removal of barriers focuses attention on a range of issues ignored in both the charity and medical models. For instance, it challenges inequalities before the law, restrictions caused by physical structures (the way buildings and villages are designed), and discrimination – the disabling aspects of negative attitudes towards people with disabilities.

19.1.2  The medical model

19.1.4  The human rights model