What does the social model of disability mean to you?

27 August 2014

by Will Howells

Will Howells

What does the social model of disability mean to you? That's the question our friends at Scope asked disabled people in their new video.

The medical model of disability says that people are disabled by their impairments. But in the social model, it's the way society behaves that disables people. A simple example is when a wheelchair user wants to get into a building that has steps at the front door. The medical model focuses on the person's physical impairment, but in the social model it's the lack of a ramp that's the problem. It puts the responsibility on society as a whole to be inclusive.

That change of perspective can have a liberating effect, as the disabled people in this video explain:

As well as changing how disabled people perceive themselves, the social model is at the heart of campaigning. For example, we've been highlighting the shortage of disabled-friendly homes. The medical model would put the responsibility on disabled people to ‘get better’. The social model is clear that all disabled people should have a home that suits their needs — and we know that's right.

Will Howells is Leonard Cheshire Disability's digital media manager.

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