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A comparison and critique of the Ecological, Social and Medical Model in regards to the experiences of disability according to individual characteristics and environments.

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A comparison and critique of the Ecological, Social and Medical Model in regards to the experiences of disability according to individual characteristics and environments. Huseyin Ibrahim 600119436 HDS106 - Diversity, Disability & Social Exclusion Kaye Smith September 12, 2006 According to the Disability Services Act (1991), Disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment which results in a substantially reduced capacity of the person for communication, mobility or learning and requires the need for continuous support services. The experience of disability can be related to both the characteristics of the individual and also the environments in which they operate in. Bronfenbrenner's Social Ecology Model sets up a framework which takes into consideration all aspects of development, with the developing child and his/her characteristics at the centre of the model. Surrounding the child is certain layers/systems including relationships and other factors such as ethnicity and beliefs (Bowes, 2004). The social model of disability will be analysed and compared to the medical model but both models will also be discussed in relation to Bronfenbrenner's Social Ecology Model. The Social Ecology Model along with the Social and Medical Models of disability will be used to describe how the characteristics and environments an individual operates in, relate to the experiences of disability and how the barriers of disability can be overcome. THE SOCIAL ECOLOGY MODEL In order to understand this relationship, it is important to grasp the ideas that are contained within these models. ...read more.


Of course this is not the case with all individuals but if society is seen through a general perspective, it is quiet apparent that this is the case. It is these types of barriers that the social model tries to address. This model adheres to the topic that the experience of disability is an interaction between characteristics of the person and environments in which they operate. The social model aims to change the ideology and general way of thinking in society, to see individuals with impairments as being disabled due to factors other than physical impairments. Instead, it is society, with environments, attitudes, and many other factors which have resulted in the view of these individuals being seen as disabled. THE MEDICAL MODEL OF DISABILITY The Medical Model approaches disability in a completely different manner. This model sees the individual as a patient that needs to be treated or cured in order to be able to operate 'normally' in society today (Oliver, 1990). This model has resulted in controversy from people with disabilities, because it requires them to depend on the medical system to much without providing any probing into other factors that facilitate the experience of disability. This model sees the 'problem' of disability stemming from physical limitations. The problem with this is that medical staff aim to treat disability rather than illness, which any 'normal' person can also get. A person with a disability may get an illness and need to be treated but a problem arises when doctors also try to treat the disability, which cannot be treated without using the social model of disability (Oliver, 1990). ...read more.


Neither the social model nor the medical model take into consideration specific characteristics of a person but rather focus on environments and individual factors. The pain and personality of a disabled person is important when considering an approach and combining a number of models to suit the needs of these people. All these factors mentioned, from society, environments, interactions and important aspects of the person play a role in development, which all fall into Bronfenbrenner's social ecology model. In conclusion, developmental mechanisms and interrelations are important factors in producing a model which will allow for the abolishment of the 'experience of disability' and provide knowledge within society to overcome this problem. The social and medical models work to a certain extent, but as complex human beings, two models will never provide a total understanding in the development of a person. The social model is important in recognizing the impact of both social and physical environments, but also looks past the actual impairment and helps understand that disability is a result of interactions within certain environments. An approach which acknowledges this but also considers factors such as personal characteristics of a disabled person will allow for a step forward when overcoming 'the experience of disability'. In order to do this, not only will a model be required, but also a contribution from those with disabilities, medical professionals and also those classified as 'normal'. This will then allow for the social and environmental barriers to make way for a more 'impairment friendly' world. ...read more.

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