Six characters all performed by Katherine Araniello
Photo: Katherine Araniello, The Dinner Party. Photo by the artist.

What is the Social Model of Disability?

Understanding the Social Model of Disability

  • The social model defines disability as a social construct
  • It asks the question ‘where is the problem?’ and locates it in social organisation, attitudes and environment, not in the individual’s impairment as previously implied in what became known as the ‘medical model’ of disability
  • It demonstrates that people from different impairment groups, far from having separate issues and interests, face problems in common, such as lack of access to information and communication, environmental exclusion and discrimination in employment, and empowers them to find common solutions to remove these barriers
  • It enables disabled people to express their situation in terms of human rights and as an issue of equality, challenging the traditional model that is premised on principles of care, cure and welfare
  • It places the responsibility on organisations, businesses and individuals across all sectors to identify and implement constructive changes to remove barriers and increase access
  • The Social Model is enshrined in law and must be promoted when developing policies, practices and procedures.

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