The social model of disability arose as a reaction to the "traditional" medical model of disability. The medical model sees disability as an individual health issue, as a consequence of the individual's physical or cognitive deficiencies (Lang, 2007). Conceptualising disability as an individual health issue implies imagining people with disabilities as damaged, as abnormal (Albert, 2004).
The social model of disability, however, shifts away from the impaired individual and focuses on society's disability to provide appropriate services (Lang, 2007). From this perspective, disability is not about health or pathology but about social exclusion (Albert, 2004). Understanding the concept of disablement from a social perspective means differentiating between impairment (a bodily state characterised by malfunction) and disability (the disadvantage or restriction caused by society that takes little account of people with impairments) (Lang, 2007). In other words, it is society that disables people, not the impairment.
"Viewing the world from a different perspective enables people to have new experiences and break down boundaries." Sue Austin
Freewheeling is a disability led initative that uses surreal juxtapositions and representations of disability equipment in order to enhance new ways of seeing, being and knowing (via). Sue Austin's artwork received global attention when she used the underwater wheelchair during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Creating the Spectacle watch
Albert, B. (2004) Briefing Note: The social model of disability, human rights and development. Disability KaR Research Project - Enabling disabled people to reduce poverty (via)
Lang, R. (2007) The Development and Critique of the Social Model of Disability. Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre (via)
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