Models of Disability Essay

914 Words May 4th, 2013 4 Pages
Models of Disability
Disability is a human reality that has been perceived differently by diverse cultures and historical periods. For most of the 20th century, disability was defined according to a medical model. In the medical model, disability is assumed to be a way to characterize a particular set of largely static, functional limitations. This led to stereotyping and defining people by condition or limitations. World Health Organization (WHO) – New definition of Disability
In 2001, the World Health Organization (WHO) established a new definition of disability, declaring it an umbrella term with several components: * impairments: a problem in body function or structure * activity limitations: a difficulty encountered by a
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They say it has led to their low self esteem, undeveloped life skills, poor education and consequent high unemployment levels. Above all, they have recognised that the Medical Modelrequires the breaking of natural relationships with their families, communities and society as a whole.
The Social Model
During the 1960’s and 1970’s newly formed groups of disabled people started to challenge the way in which they were treated and regarded within society. Alternative definitions of impairment and disability were developed and formed the basis of what is known as the Social Model.
Impairment is the functional limitation within the individual caused by physical, mental or sensory impairment.
Disability is the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life ofthe community on an equal level with others due to physical and social barriers. (Barnes, 1994:2)
Disability is no longer seen as an individual problem but as a social issue caused by policies, practices, attitudes and/or the environment. For example, a wheelchair user may have a physical impairment but it is the absence of a ramp that prevents them from accessing a building. In other words, the disabling factor is the inaccessible environment.
The disabled people's movement believes the 'cure' to the problem of disability lies in the restructuring of society. Unlike medically based 'cures', that focus on individuals

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