Understanding Models of Disability Studies Generally, disability is considered to be a condition in which individuals are restricted from undertaking or performing tasks deemed to be normal or regular. More definitively, (World Health Organization-WHO, 2015) defines Disability as follows: “Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.
An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced y an individual in involvement in life situations. Thus disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives. ” In addition, disability may affect people differently, and according to the (Disability Discrimination Act 1995), disability is categorized as being; physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, pathogenic and neurological.
The particular effects of disability may result in medical health disabilities such as; anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or cancer etc. Also, physical isabilities including; hearing impairment, loss of vision, being paralyzed, amputations or cognitive disabilities such as; dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or autism. Furthermore, poverty may be considered a disability, as it limits an individual’s access to social amenities such as; health care, education, public transportation and massively hinders job attainment.
Moreover, in an effort to better understand the limitations created by disability, a comparison will be made between two contrasting approaches to disability: the medical and social model of disability studies. Firstly, the medical model of disability refers to disability as a physical condition that is inherent to the affected person. The model suggests that individuals are disabled by their impairments for example if a wheelchair using student is unable to get into a building because of some steps, the medical model would suggest that this is because of the girls disability being in the wheelchair, rather than the steps.
The limitations of these disabilities are caused by some form of trauma, diseases or other health conditions. The Medical model also postulates that these isabilities limit the quality of life and that in order to manage the disabling condition, treatment is necessary to regulate individual’s behavior to the point of functioning almost normal. The medical approach to disability focuses on medical care. It attacks political issues such as policy reforms that will provide better health care for the disabled; this approach is also referred to as a sociopolitical model. New Health Guide, 2015)
Albeit, the social model of disability views disabilities as a problem created by society because of its inability to provide the ecessary amenities that would make it easier for people with impairments to indulge in regular tasks. In this context society excludes impaired individuals from participating in social activities and thereby causes the disability to manifest. The social model of disability sets out to make a distinction between `impairment` and `disability` in that impairments limits functionality and disability is the inability to take part in social activities because of environmental barriers.
Additionally the (Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation-UPIAS , 1975) osits that; “It is society which disables physically impaired people. Disability is something imposed on top of our impairments, by the way we are unnecessarily isolated and excluded from full participation in society. Disabled people are therefore an oppressed group in society. ” The idea then behind the social model of disability is that society has a role to provide opportunities for impaired individuals to equally participate in activities as would a non-disabled person.
For example a girl who is visually impaired attending college may have gained lower grades than her non-disabled peers ecause the course lectures do not provide larger font hand- outs. The Social model of disability would propose that it is the college that would have caused the disability rather than the visual impairment of the girl. The medical and social model of disability both hold substantial argument in the study of disability. However, there are clearly outlined limitations presented by both theories of disability studies.
With regards to the medical model of disability, the limitations surrounding the model is that it keeps its focus on the limitations of the affected individuals and uggests that by providing treatment to these individuals they could simply blend in with society. The view does not allow individuals to naturally feel normal but instead they are reminded that they are disabled. The Social model on the other hand places the responsibility on society in that it proposes that society meets the needs of impaired individuals by providing infrastructures or implementations for impaired persons to participate normally.
This idea sensitizes the public thereby creating a world where the impaired is accepted rather than tolerated. (New Health Guide, 2015) Secondly, (Carson Grant, 009) explains that, the medical model of disability affects the way disabled people think about themselves; in that, many disabled people internalize the message that all disabled people’s problems stem from not having ‘normal’ bodies. This message can have negative impacts on people living with disabilities. The social model on the other hand argues that society should be cultured to understand and make adjustments to their ideals about the disabled.
Also, the medical model sets forth an idea that disabled people should believe that their impairments automatically prevent them from taking art in social activities, while the social approach protests that altering the way society interacts with these individuals is more of a remedy to the problems associated with disability. Furthermore, the medical model suggests that professionals such as doctors or physicians are the agents of change in the awareness and sensitization of disability studies while the social model decided that it is the individual with the disability that will best serve as an agent of change.
The medical model calls upon the government of the country to make changes through policy eforms that will help disabled individuals on a larger scale while the social model tackles companies and institutions. The medical model is equipped to cover larger grounds and in turn make more massive impact in the world. In conclusion, the review of the medical and social model of disability serves as an essential tool to aid social workers in their field of expertise.
The social work profession is considered to be a practical one and is concerned with social change on an individual, group, coalition and community levels. These models helps social workers to better understand, interact and explain human behavior for xample seeing how people respond to different stimuli within their communities, like a child wearing a hearing aid to school and evaluating his perception of how he believes he is viewed by others. Social workers use both the medical and social models of disability to create change within society whether through policy changes or outreach programs.
Take for instance; the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security which is a social work agency and an extension of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, where the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ighlighted that; The Director of the Early Stimulation Programme, Antonica Gunter-Gayle tells JIS News that a number of improvement projects are set to be implemented, which is aimed at providing students with resources quality of their learning experience.
Among the list of improvement projects include, the construction of a new improve the building on the site of the school located at 95 Hanover Street Downtown, Kingston. She explains that the centre will also be used to facilitate assessments and design of personalized early interventions for children suffering from varying developmental isorders and physical disabilities. JIS-Williams, Rochelle, 2015) Social workers and agencies alike are transforming lives through their understanding of the different perspectives put forth by scholars yearly. Models like the social and medical perspective highlights how society view the disable and grants social worker a vantage point in working with these varying groups to tackle social, economic, political and cultural issues such as discrimination, poverty, inequality, racism and disability in our societies in order to help individuals enjoy they rights as human beings.