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Disability awareness > Module 1 > Page 6

 

Context and theories of disability

The social model

People with disabilities are frequently discriminated against and are often excluded from many aspects of society. The Social Model argues that this has little to do with their disabilities but more to do with how society is constructed and organised. These are some of the disabling factors affecting people with disabilities in society:

  • segregated education
  • inaccessible transport
  • poorly designed buildings
  • poverty and low income
  • discrimination

The fact that someone has a disability does not mean that they are not able to participate in society. But prejudice, social and physical barriers and discriminatory practices further disable people. Their presence ensures that people with disabilities are excluded from many normal, everyday activities such as education, work and recreation. 'If society were organised on a more equitable basis, many of the problems associated with not being' perfect' (as if such a concept had any logical basis) would disappear' . (Brisenden, S.J. 1986)

This model clearly recognises that individuals have different needs and that people with disabilities should have their needs addressed on an individual basis. Unlike the Medical Model, the social model argues that it is inaccessible environments and societal attitudes that are the real barriers to people with disabilities fully participating in society. The impact of disability is directly related to the organisation of society.

The social model argues that the ‘problem' of disability should be addressed by restructuring society to make it inclusive to all its citizens . This belief clearly has important implications for our system of education. In order to challenge discrimination against people with disabilities we must ensure their inclusion within our schools, colleges and universities.

The impact of disability is directly related to the organisation of society.

The social model argues that the ‘problem' of disability should be addressed by restructuring society to make it inclusive to all it's citizens. This belief clearly has important implications for our system of education. In order to challenge discrimination against people with disabilities we must ensure their inclusion within our schools, colleges and universities.

The social model now greatly influences the development of policy and the provision for people with disabilities in Ireland.

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