Models of Disability

There are many different models of disability, along with varying titles and definitions, so it can get confusing. For the purpose of this post, we will be looking at just three of those models…medical, tragedy / charity, and social.

Medical Model

"This disability is a 'problem' in their body that needs to be fixed or managed by medicine and science in order to live a 'normal' life.

Medical model language: includes terms like normal, abnormal, the disabled, the blind, person with disabilities, able-bodied, handicapped, suffering from, special needs, needs, and wheelchair-bound." ~ Understanding Disability (Medical Model) - Drake Music

Two bullet points defining Medical Model: 1. Disability is a medical problem that needs to be solved or an illness that needs to be "cured." 2. This model implied that a person with a disability is broken or sick and that they need to be fixed or healed through medical intervention.

Tragedy / Charity Model

"The Charity Model is an offshoot of the Medical Model. The base logic is informed by the Medical Model, but expanded into a view of Disability as tragic and pitiable.

According to the Charity Model, a person's disability is a 'problem' in their body and good citizens should feel pity for the disabled person’s tragedy, or inspired by a disabled person's achievements.

Charity Model language, like Medical Model language, includes terms like normal, abnormal, the disabled, the blind, person with disabilities, able-bodied, handicapped, suffering from, special needs, needs, and wheelchair-bound." ~ Understanding Disability (Charity Model) - Drake Music

Three bullet points defining the Charity Model: 1. In the charity model of disability, there is a view that persons with disabilities are helpless people and need to be cared for. 2. In this model, persons with disabilities are regarded as objects of charity aand passive recipients of welfare. 3. People feel pity for them, and the disabled person is made to be entirely dependent from others.

Social Model

"A person is disabled by society’s placing of barriers to different types of access in all facets of civil and social life through attitudes, the physical environment and institutional norms.

Social model language: disabled person, inclusion, enabled, impairments, access requirements, Disabled." ~ Understanding Disability (Social Model) - Drake Music

Three bullets points defining the Social Model of Disability: 1. The docial model of disability focuses on eliminating barriers created by society or the physical environment. 2. By eliminating attitudinal and environmental barriers, persons with disabilities can participate as active members of society aand enjoy the full range of their rights. 3. This includes promoting positive attitudes changing the rules and environment to be accessible for all including buildings and providing information in a way that everyone can understand.

Resources

Maggie Vaughan, CPACC
~ friend of DubBot, A11Y practitioner in higher ed