Issues in Disability

Issuesin Disability

Issuesin Disability

Earlyscholars used the medical model that was mostly used in the medicalprofession in assessing the disability issues. Ideas and theory ofthe social model of disability did not match that of the medicalmodel. The society was to blame for the evil that happened to thephysically challenged as per the medical model. The society was seenas a tool to expose the physically challenged to every kind of dangerwithout showing any concern about what the effect can be on thephysically challenged individuals.

Thesociologists of UPAI found out that the social model there was amisinterpretation and misuse of terms on explaining the approachesused to explain and give more details to the social model. Theydecided to give a distinguished meaning and interpretation of theimpairment disability approach. They defined impairment as thephysical malfunctioning of a body part due to an injury or a naturalphenomenon. Disability, on the other hand, refers to a ban made on adisabled person towards access or use of some items and resources ina particular organization. The difference between the two is basedon the basic philosophy of the social model which differentiates thetwo terms and puts it clear that impairment only exists in thephysical world whereas disability is a construct in social thatexists in reality within a given organization that is complex instructure and with shared ideas, biases and challenges created by thesurrounding environment at a given time and place.

Thesocial model as a concept recognizes the idea that some people’scapability to function in a given environment can be an effect causedby their physical or psychological differences. The social modelgives a suggestion that the society is the one responsible for thestatus of these individuals who have physical and psychologicaldifferences. It argues that when an individual is impaired it doesnot mean that he or she is not disabled by the impairment theexisting barriers in a particular society which are less concernedabout their need are the ones responsible for the state ofdisability. According to the British Council of Disabled People, thebarriers include environmental, economical and cultural barriers.

Thissocial model of disability is applicable in neurodiversity when theaffected individuals are taking their higher education. There existsstudent with impairments and disabilities who are exposed to the samebarrier as those of people with physical impairments. The learningdifferences noticed in some learners is taken as a case that needsspecial attention but in reality they don’t fit the technique oftraditional learning. Dyslexia is not a deficit but an experiencethat arises out of natural human diversity (Thomas, 2004). Therefore,there are no teaching styles suitable for dyslexic studentsincorporated in the standard teaching methods. The environments forlearning for neurologically diverse students are not that suitable.There’s disorderly in the lecture halls witnessed by darkness,noise, lack of power points to use on laptops and lack of technologyrooms to be used. Once in a while lectures and tutors use handouts,diagrams and other recommendable visual aids which are only moreapplicable to the neuro-typicals. The system of education incountries like the UK is least concerned with diversity witnessedwithin its population and because of that students who areneurologically diverse may not achieve compared to the neurologicallytypical students. Failure by the students in the institutions tolearn according to the criteria set out for the typical students, istaken as learning disability that should be given special attentionbut in reality the problem is with the surrounding environment.

Anotherabstract about social issues in disability was written by theEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education. In this abstract, Terzisaid no to the social model because he felt that it took thedisability idea as an issue that immensely affect the society. Itoccurs due to various forms of oppression and discrimination presentin the society. Unlike, the ICF, this model focuses on one area anddoes not give chances for interactions (Terzi, 2004). Terzi (2004)argue that the imputations alleged to the model takes variousbarriers in the society as the only restriction of disability andtreats impairment as irrelevant, a matter that he said is a result ofoversimplifications. Thomas (2004) posits that there is validevidence to show that social barriers are the chief cause of allrestriction of activity. It then becomes easier to make counterassertions that are logic. For instance, impairment rarely leads toactivity’s restrictions because this model infers that most ofthese restrictions occur due to various barriers in the society(Thomas, 2004).

Thomas(2004) insists that the position, creationist, which was initiallyknown as the social model, does not argue against impairment’sissue. This is a clear indication that the problem is caused by boththe impairment and various barriers in the society (Terzi, 2004). Inthe course of theorizing this model various relational elements havebeen lost. Researchers and scholars have come up with a model tostress on this weakness. They suggested that disability is imposed onrestriction that emanate from impairment (Thomas, 2004). ICF hastherefore been recommended because it brings about together theconcerned individuals and social elements. The problem of disabilitycan, therefore, combine the elements of individual and social.Several scholars have concluded that the issue of disability is adisadvantage to the physically challenged individuals and not aninjustice or a form to oppress the physically challenged. Accordingto early sociologists like Paul Hunt and Vic Finklestein, the uprightlessons learnt from giving genuine valid definitions of oppressionand disadvantage formed a fundamental basis of argument by thesociologists who believed in the social model. Matters of disabilityshould be treated as an outcome of restriction and not contingentbased on contextual factors. Capability approach can be betterexplained by the social-relational model in a special educationenvironment rather than the ICF.

Preferencesof the social relational model over ICF occur due to its capabilityapproach as well as the social-relational model that focus on theimportance of vital goals in how one wishes to live. On the otherhand, ICF neglects this aspect because the issues of volition andintention are not within its conceptual framework (Thomas, 2004).This aspect disqualifies ICF as a genuine model to address the issuesof disability incase of special needs education as incorporation ofempowerment is indeed hard and complicated. Another reason forpreferring the social-relational model is that the approach ofcapability and social relational model gives a capability attributeof poverty in case of the impaired people regarding socialinequalities. To conclude on this issue, further investigations areneeded in order to explore those capabilities that requirestrengthening in order to prevent disability to be understood ascapability-poverty, both within school settings and the society ingeneral.


Terzi,L. 2004. The social model of disability. A philosophical critique.Journalof Applied Philosophy21, 2, 141–257.

Thomas,C. 2004. How is disability understood? An examination of sociologicalapproaches. Disabilityand Society19, 6, 569–683.