Social Model


The social model of disability sees the problem of disability as a problem with the society where disabled people live and not as a problem within the disabled person.


Rather than seeing disability as a problem that needs to be fixed in the disabled person, the social model says that society plays a role in disabling people. The social model sees disability as a problem caused by living in a society built around typical ways of moving, communicating, and thinking which a given individual might not be able to do. The social model says that some people are always going to have impairments, but that these impairments do not need to keep that person from participating in the world. It also says that society has a responsibility to work towards including, rather than excluding and disabling, people with impairments.

-List of related media/links

-List of concrete examples

  • Case example: The Deaf community usually rejects the medical model in favor of a social model, by building a community or society where almost everyone is Deaf.

  • Case example: Alternative print format such as Braille or large print materials for the Blind is consistent with the social model.

  • Case example: When one of my teachers allowed me to turn off half the lights in the classroom because I am very light sensitive, she was using the social model to think about my disability.

  • Usage example: “The social model of disability recognizes that people often have impairments in their body or mind, while also holding that impairments are not automatically disabilities.”

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