Even though there are several ‘models’ of disability that have been discussed and defined recently, two of the most frequently mentioned ‘models’ of disability are the ‘social’ and the ‘medical’ models of disability. The medical model of disability sees disability as a ‘problem’ that the disabled person has. Something that is to be treated, mitigated or even cured. It is not looked at as something that affects, or is the business of other people. An example of this would be, a student with walking difficulties who uses a wheelchair is unable to get into a building because there are steps up to the door, the medical model says that this a problem with using the wheelchair and may look at other ways of making the student more mobile , rather than a problem with the design of the building.
The medical model view is based in the opinion that the difficulties of disability should be carried entirely by the person who is disabled and that that disabled person should make the extra effort (perhaps in time and/or money) so that that they do not inconvenience other people.
An example of the medical model approach might be :-
A practitioner not producing literature in a larger font for a visually impaired student. This means student cannot participate in the class discussion;
The difference in the social model of disability is that it sees a flight of steps as the problem that needs addressing. The social model sees the idea that society is the thing that disables people – by for example organising and designing buildings to meet the needs of the majority of people who do not have disabilities. The social model maintains that there are many things that society can do to change, reduce and address or reduce, and remove, some the problems that are designed into society, and that it is the responsibility of society, rather than the disabled person. The social model is more inclusive in its approach. Consideration is given as to how disabled people take part in activities on an equal basis with non-disabled people. Adjustments are made, even if this involves time and/or money, to make sure that disabled people are not excluded. The onus is on the practitioner to make sure that their activity is accessible to all their students. An example might be:-
A practitioner who meets with a visually impaired member of the group before the beginning of a course to find out how literature can be adapted so that the student can read it and participate in the class discussion.