Models of Disability

What are the medical and social models of disability?

There are two very different views of disability:

The medical model

Historically, disability has been seen as a problem to be tackled by doctors – by curing the person’s impairment. Disability lies with the individual and the individual must be changed.

Find out more about the medical model and how it applies to education.

The social model

In the 1980s, the Disabled people’s movement developed a different view: the social model. Society currently does not take into account the needs of Disabled people, and this is what disables them, not their impairment.

In the social model, Disability lies not with the individual but with society. Society must change to take into account Disabled people’s requirements.

Find out more about the social model and how it applies to education.

Further reading:

Inclusive education reading list for students

Resources for education professionals

More definitions


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