Social and Medical Disability Models Essay

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In this assignment, I aim to provide the reader with an overview of two prominent models of disability: the medical model and the social model. More specifically, I intend to outline the differences between these models, especially their theory and practice.

Firstly, I will note the definition of what a model of disability is and point to its relevance in disability studies. I will also briefly examine the origins of both the medical and social models, but mainly outlining the contributions of their respective theoretical content and influence in society.

Overall, the main aim of the assignment is to be achieved by providing a general outline of the social and medical disability models, which can be used to highlight
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As Karen Hammell (2006, p. 55) states, a model ‘encapsulates specific knowledge and perspectives and posits links between data…shaped by ideas’. Hence, a model provides an understanding of disability. This is achieved by arriving at clear definitions to impairment and disability based on justifiable theory, and noting relevant practice methods.

Two of the most prominent models of disability in today’s practice have been the medical model and the social model. It should be understood that the fundamental difference between both models lies in their definitions of impairment and disability. Only when there is definition can there be a progression to practicality for a person with an impairment.

The social model, advocated by the prominent Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) in the USA, conclude that disability is ‘[restrictions placed] by a social organisation which takes no account of people with physical impairments and excludes them from participation’ (Barnes & Mercer, 2003, p.11). The UPIAS describes impairment as having any partial or complete defection of a bodily organ or part.

Disability, defined within the theory of the medical model, is finely exemplified by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (1980). Here, disability is designated as a ‘lack…