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Models of Disability are tools for defining impairment and, ultimately, for providing a basis upon which government and society can devise strategies for meeting the needs of disabled people.

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Introduction

Models of Disability are tools for defining impairment and, ultimately, for providing a basis upon which government and society can devise strategies for meeting the needs of disabled people. They are often treated with skepticism as it is thought they do not reflect a real world, are often incomplete and encourage narrow thinking, and seldom offer detailed guidance for action. However, they are a useful framework in which to gain an understanding of disability issues, and also of the perspective held by those creating and applying the models. For Models of Disability are essentially devised by people about other people. They provide an insight into the attitudes, conceptions and prejudices of the former and how they impact on the latter. From this, Models reveal the ways in which our society provides or limits access to work, goods, services, economic influence and political power for people with disabilities. Models are influenced by two fundamental philosophies. The first sees disabled people as dependent upon society. ...read more.

Middle

Disability is the product of the physical, organizational and attitudinal barriers present within society, which lead to discrimination. The removal of discrimination requires a change of approach and thinking in the way in which society is organized. The social model takes account of disabled people as part of our economic, environmental and cultural society. The barriers that prevent any individual playing a part in society are the problem, not the individual. Barriers still exist in education, information and communication systems, working environments, health and social support services, transport, housing, public buildings and amenities. The devaluing of disabled people through negative images in the media - films, television and newspapers - also act as a barrier. The social model has been developed with the aim of removing barriers so that disabled people have the same opportunity as everyone else to determine their own life styles. A simple example is that of a wheelchair user who has a mobility impairment. ...read more.

Conclusion

The individual with a disability is in the sick role under the medical model. When people are sick, they are excused from the normal obligations of society: going to school, getting a job, taking on family responsibilities, etc. They are also expected to come under the authority of the medical profession in order to get better. Thus, until recently, most disability policy issues have been regarded as health issues, and physicians have been regarded as the primary authorities in this policy area. One can see the influence of the medical model in disability public policy today, most notably in the Social Security system, in which disability is defined as the inability to work. This is consistent with the role of the person with a disability as sick. It is also the source of enormous problems for persons with disabilities who want to work but who would risk losing all related public benefits, such as health care coverage or access to Personal Assistance Services (for in-home chores and personal functioning), since a person loses one's disability status by going to work. ...read more.

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