Swansea Association Independent Living CIC will promote the understanding, adoption and implementation of the Social Model of Disability throughout Swansea and sourounding areas!

The following information was taken from Welsh Government’s Website.

The Social Model of Disability recognises that disabled people are people with impairments who are disabled by their environment.

This Model is recognised by disabled people and was formally adopted by the Welsh Government in 2002.

Having been formally adopted by the Welsh Government, the Social Model of disability must be reflected in the language that we use and the policies and services which we deliver.

Swansea Association Independent Living CIC will promote the understanding, adoption and implementation of the Social Model of Disability throughout Swansea and sourounding areas!

The following information was taken from Welsh Government’s Website.

The Social Model of Disability recognises that disabled people are people with impairments who are disabled by their environment.

This Model is recognised by disabled people and was formally adopted by the Welsh Government in 2002.

Having been formally adopted by the Welsh Government, the Social Model of disability must be reflected in the language that we use and the policies and services which we deliver.

What is the Social Model of Disability?

The Social Model of Disability makes the important difference between ‘impairment’ and ‘disability’. It recognises that people with impairments are disabled by the barriers that commonly exist in a society. In simple terms, it is not the inability to walk that prevents a person entering a building unaided but the existence of stairs that are inaccessible to a wheelchair-user. In other words, ‘disability’ is socially constructed.

The Social Model of Disability requires society to remove the barriers in order that all people have equality.

Who came up with the idea of a Social Model of Disability?

The Social Model was devised by disabled people to explain the barriers to equality which they experience. Experiences have shown the Welsh Government that most of the problems faced by disabled people are caused by the way society is organised and not by impairments. Barriers include people’s attitudes to disability, and physical and organisational barriers.

What is the UK’s position in terms of the Social Model of Disability?

In the United Kingdom the Equality Act 2010 defines disability using the Medical Model – disabled people are defined as people with certain conditions, or certain limitations on their ability to carry out ‘normal day-to-day activities.’

However, the requirement for employers and service providers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to their policies or practices, or physical aspects of their premises, follows the Social Model.

Has the Welsh Government adopted the Social Model of Disability?

The Welsh Government adopted the Social Model of Disability in 2002. Although the Equality Act 2010 defines disability as having a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on carrying out normal day-to-day activities, the Social Model advocates that it is society which creates attitudinal and physical disabling barriers. The Social Model is a positive approach to disability and focuses on removing barriers to equality. If anyone requires reasonable adjustments, in order to participate on a basis of equality, regardless of whether they meet the Equality Act definition, the Welsh Government is committed to meeting their requirements.

How does this affect my day to day work?

In 2 ways:

  • Firstly, all references to disabled people should use language which is consistent with the Social Model of Disability.  ‘Disabled person’ or ‘disabled people’ is the appropriate way of describing people with impairments who are disabled by society.  ‘People with impairments’ is acceptable when referring to impairment rather than disability. ‘People with disabilities’ should not be used.  ‘The disabled’ should never be used, nor should the word ‘handicapped’.  Using the right language is important because it ensures the correct understanding of the issues.
  • Secondly, and crucially – all policies and services should be designed in the light of the Social Model, ensuring that our actions do not cause barriers which disable people with impairments and prevent equality.

What is the Medical Model of Disability?

The Medical Model of Disability is the more traditional understanding of disability in which disability is equated with impairment. Disability is seen as a result of a physical condition, inevitably reducing the individual’s life chances. According to this model, a compassionate or just society should invest resources to attempt to cure ‘disabilities’ (impairments) medically or to improve functioning and make disabled persons more “normal”. Under the Medical Model the medical profession has significant responsibility and potential for helping disabled people.

The Medical Model of disability sees the disabled person as the problem – the focus is on the impairment, rather than removing the barriers which affect the person.

How is the Social Model of Disability different to the Medical Model of Disability?

The Social Model is about equality and removing barriers which prevent disabled people from participating in society on an equal basis with their non-disabled peers.

What is the difference between Impairment and Disability?

Impairment

A few examples of impairment include; someone who has had a leg amputated has impairment, someone whose learning difficulty makes it hard for them to remember things, someone who is visually impaired, or deaf, or who has epileptic seizures, unwanted muscular spasms, or a long term condition.

Disability

Disability occurs when a person is excluded by barriers affecting people with impairments, from something that other people in society take for granted. That might be the chance to attend an event, access some service or get involved in an activity. It might be to live independently, to earn a living, to be kept informed, or just to make choices for themselves.

People commonly assume that impairment causes the disability, but this is wrong. It is the choices society makes that causes someone to be disabled. Below are a few examples:

  • Example 1 – a deaf person wanting to attend a conference. If no sign language interpreter, or loop system (depending on their requirements) is provided then the person is excluded – disabled. But with a signer operating alongside the speakers, or a loop system, the person can take part on an equal basis. They still have the same hearing impairment, but they are not disabled.
  • Example 2 – a wheelchair user wants to get on a bus. If it has room and access for wheelchairs, they are fine. If not, they are disabled.
  • Example 3 – a visually impaired person wanting to find out what the council is doing. If information is available in an audio format, they are enabled. If not, they are disabled.