Care Management

Social Model of Disability

The origins of the social model of disability can be found within the wider human rights movement, and the specific term was coined by Michael Oliver disabled academic, in the 1980’s.  The model differentiates between 'impairment’ – physical, psychological, or intellectual differences – and ‘disability’ which refers to the barriers and prejudice that society create. Therefore the impairment is owned by the individual, but the disability is owned by the whole of society.

To illustrate this, a woman with an impairment living in a flat which is adapted to her needs is not disabled whilst she is in her flat as she is able to do everything that she wants and needs to. It is only when she goes out, and faces the attitudes and practicalities of a world not designed to meet her needs that she is disabled.

Therefore, as a department of Adult and Community Services, if we can adopt a social model approach we can share the responsibility for creating environments that do not disable people. We can do this on an individual level by working with people to create assessments and care plans that meet their needs. It is also incumbent on us to promote the social model in the wider world, working with communities and organisations to increase their accessibility and improve their understanding and attitudes.

“A fundamental aspect of the social model concerns equality. The struggle for equality is often compared to the struggles of other socially marginalized groups. Equal rights are said to give empowerment and the 'ability' to make decisions and the opportunity to live life to the fullest. A related phrase often used by disability rights campaigners, as with other social activism, is "Nothing About Us Without Us “ (wikepedia)

Organisations providing advice and information

Learning Gallery resources

Resource Code/No: LDGE /66
Title: The Disability Reader
ISBN: 0826453600
Author: ed. Tom Shakespeare

Resource Code/No: LDGE /70
Title: Disability Studies Today
ISBN: 0745626572
Author: ed. Colin Barnes et al
Publisher: Polity Press