The Social Model Theory is a concept that has been developed to explain disability as a social construct. Unlike the Medical Model Theory, which views disability as a medical problem that needs to be cured or fixed, the Social Model Theory places responsibility on society to remove barriers and create equal opportunities for people with disabilities.
What is the Social Model Theory?
The Social Model Theory of disability was first introduced in the 1970s by disabled activists. It posits that disability is not an inherent characteristic of an individual but rather a socially constructed phenomenon. According to this theory, individuals are disabled by society’s attitudes, physical barriers, and exclusionary practices rather than their impairments or differences.
Medical Model Vs. Social Model
The Medical Model views disability as an individual problem that requires medical intervention to fix or cure. This model sees the person as deficient, and it focuses on what is “wrong” with them. In contrast, the Social Model recognizes that people with disabilities are not inherently deficient but are instead disabled by social barriers such as architectural barriers and discrimination.
Key Components of the Social Model Theory
The following are some key components of the Social Model Theory:
- Society creates disability: The fundamental principle of this theory is that society creates disability by creating physical, social, and attitudinal barriers.
- Barriers need to be removed: The focus should be on removing these barriers rather than fixing individuals’ impairments.
- Inclusion and participation: The goal should be full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of society.
- Social change: Changes in attitudes, policies, and practices are needed to achieve full inclusion and participation.
The Implications of the Social Model Theory
The Social Model Theory has significant implications for policy and practice in the disability field. It highlights the need for society to address the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society.
This requires changes in attitudes, policies, and practices. For example, it means making buildings accessible, providing sign language interpreters, and creating inclusive education systems.
In conclusion, the Social Model Theory of disability is an essential framework that challenges traditional views of disability as an individual problem. It places responsibility on society to remove barriers and create equal opportunities for people with disabilities. By adopting this model, we can work towards creating a more inclusive and accessible world for everyone.