Social model

The social model of disability proposes that barriers, prejudice and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently) are the ultimate factors defining who is disabled and who is not disabled. We support the social model of disability.

The social model of disability makes the important distinction between ‘impairment’ and ‘disability’.

The social model has been worked out by disabled people who feel that the medical model does not give an accurate explanation for their exclusion from mainstream society – because experiences have shown that most of their problems are not caused by their impairments, but by the way society is organised. This is an important viewpoint, and has led organisations to think about how they can make adjustments.

Society is shown to disable people because the way it has been set up prevents people with impairments from taking part in every day life. Removing the barriers which exclude people who have impairments can bring about this change.

Devon County Council is removing or altering as many barriers as possible to disabled people.

We can take a social approach to disability by identifying and getting rid of the disabling barriers which are within our control such as management practices, the way work is organised, or building design.

We can also assist disabled service users and employees to get around other barriers over which our organisation has no direct control. For example, we can enable a disabled employee to start work later than their non-disabled colleagues because it takes them longer to get to work.

We will all examine our policies, procedures and practices to ensure that we actively include disabled people.