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The Medical Model vs. The Social Model of Disability

The medical model and the social model of disability are two contrasting perspectives that help us understand and address disability. Here's an explanation of the key differences between the two:


1. Medical Model of Disability:


The medical model views disability as a personal attribute or a defect within an individual. It emphasizes that disability is primarily caused by impairments or medical conditions inherent in the individual's body or mind. According to this model, the focus is on diagnosing and treating the individual's medical condition or impairment to minimize the impact of disability. Medical interventions, therapies, medications, and assistive devices are often used to manage disabilities. In this model, the responsibility for accommodating disabilities lies mainly with medical professionals and healthcare systems.


2. Social Model of Disability:


The social model of disability takes a broader perspective, emphasizing that disability is not solely caused by an individual's impairments or medical conditions but is largely influenced by social and environmental barriers. It argues that society constructs disability by creating physical, attitudinal, and systemic barriers that prevent people with impairments from fully participating and accessing opportunities. Disability is seen as a result of the interaction between an individual and an inaccessible or discriminatory environment. The social model seeks to address these barriers and promote inclusivity, equality, and accessibility by advocating for changes in societal attitudes, policies, and infrastructure.

Key differences between the two models include:


1. Focus: The medical model focuses on the individual's impairments and medical treatment, while the social model focuses on addressing societal barriers and promoting inclusion.


2. Cause: The medical model attributes disability to an individual's impairments or medical conditions, whereas the social model attributes disability to social and environmental factors.


3. Responsibility: The medical model places the responsibility for managing disability on medical professionals, whereas the social model emphasizes collective responsibility and calls for societal changes to remove barriers.


4. Approach: The medical model emphasizes fixing or accommodating the individual to fit into existing structures, while the social model advocates for changing the structures to accommodate and include individuals with disabilities.


5. Power dynamics: The medical model may reinforce power imbalances between medical professionals and people with disabilities, whereas the social model aims to empower individuals with disabilities by challenging societal norms and promoting their rights and inclusion.


It's important to note that these models are not mutually exclusive, and there can be overlaps and interactions between them. However, the social model has gained significant prominence in recent years as a framework for promoting disability rights, inclusivity, and social change.

This is an image of my official logo that reads "Jensen Caraballo" in cursive letters.

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