The Social Model of Disability

The Social Model and How it Underpins Positive Attitudes Towards Disability

The social model of disability says that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. The social model puts the focus on the individual’s abilities and their unique needs and not on their condition. This person centred approach helps develop positive attitudes in society.

The social model was devised by the people who are affected most by disability. It looks for ways of removing barriers that limit life choices. When barriers are removed, people can work towards being as independent as they can be and be included and equal in society. These barriers could include:

  • The environment, for example, is a building accessible for a person who uses a wheelchair?
  • The impact of people’s attitudes, for example, stereotyping all people with dementia as the same and assuming they will all be affected in the same way
  • The impact of an organisation’s approach, for example, ways of working that are set to meet the needs of the organisation rather than the individual.

The barrier’s that need to be broken down can be physical or determined through people’s actions. Support workers need to consider:

  • The person’s strengths, views, levels or resilience and contributions to society are recognised and valued, they are supported to live their life as fully and as independently as possible
  • Disabled people are regarded as different but equal. Difference is regarded as positive, they are not to be seen as helpless or in need of a cure
  • Disabled people have rights and these rights should not be violated.
  • Disabled people have a right to live independently and not be marginalised, excluded or segregated.

Use to answer question 9.2b of the Care Certificate

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