Disabled Clients Are Fellow Citizens? Essay

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Disabled clients are fellow citizens?
Developments in the Disabled Peoples Movement have brought disability to the fore as a civil rights issue in Britain. Growing numbers of politically active disabled people have generated an awareness of how their rights as citizens are denied by discrimination and oppression. Out of this has emerged the concept of `independent living'. A philosophy encompassing the full range of human and civil rights necessary for disabled people to be equal members of society. Underpinning this are four key beliefs:
that all human life is of value;

that anyone, whatever their impairment, is capable of exerting choices;

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Thus legitimising their inferior status and lack of power. They are impaired-ergo they are dependent and need aid. Whereas a more sophisticated view would be they are impaired-therefore they are discriminated against and need assistance to break out of a discrimination/dependency cycle. Consequently, social work can empower clients by working in ways that enhance the control they have over their lives. Alternatively, it can simply deal with the effects of discrimination. It will be argued that this largely depends on the way clients are perceived in social work.

The most persuasive perspective, in terms of shaping policy and practice, has been the medical model. This identifies the problems faced by an impaired person as stemming from an inability to adjust to his or her condition (Barton, 1993). The primary objective of social work here is defined by Thompson
(1993) as..
..a paramedical task geared toward care giving and rehabilitation (p. 124).
Consequently, little attention is given to seeking alternative, exoteric explanations for the client's experiences. He or she is seen as the source and cause of their own problems.

The influence of the medical model can be seen in individual casework. Again, this type of approach has been criticised for seeing clients as needing to
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