Models of Disability

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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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The Medical Model
Under the Medical Model, disabled people are defined by their illness or medical condition. The Medical Model regards disability as an individual problem. It promotes the view of a disabled person as dependent and needing to be cured or cared for, and justifies the way in which disabled people have been systematically excluded from society. The disabled person is the problem, not society. Control resides firmly with professionals; choices for the individual are limited to the options provided and approved by the 'helping' expert.
The Medical Model is best summarised by referring to the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps developed by the World Health Organisation in 1980. The classification makes the following distinctions:
Impairment is ‘any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function’.
Disability is ‘any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being’.
Diagram of Medical Model

The Medical Model focuses on what a person can’t do: Impairment | Disability | A wheelchair user | cannot climb the stairs or walk to the shops | A partially sighted person | cannot read
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