Models of Disability

By: Daniella Jade Lowe

What is Disability?

Over the years, classifying and defining disability has become quite tedious. There are various examples to describe disability.

Disability is seen as a ‘social construct.’ It is the idea that society and its’ institutions have the authority to construct disability around social expectations. In medieval times, disability was constructed around a person’s moral behaviour.

Disability is defined as a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities. According to an article I read from, ‘dis’ is another way of doing and being. The term disability is an ability to do or be in another way. The term disabled is an ability to do or be something, in another way-

Even though, I’ve only identified three models of disability, according to research there seems to be loads more.

Models of Disability are tools for defining impairment and for providing a basis upon which government and society can devise strategies for meeting the needs of disabled people.

Medical Model of Disability

The medical model describes disability as a consequence of a health condition, disease or caused by a trauma that can disrupt the functioning of a person in a physiological or cognitive way.

This model is a conceptualization of disability as a condition a person has and focuses on the prevention, treatment or curing of the disabling condition.

Functional Model of Disability

This model is similar to the medical model because it conceptualizes disability as an impairment or deficit. Disability is caused by physical, medical or cognitive deficits. The disability itself limits a person’s functioning or the ability to perform functional activities.

Social Model of Disability

The Social Model of Disability includes people’s views, opinions and attitudes. It has been the prominent approach to disability over the last 30+ years.

It was developed by disabled people based on real life experience of discrimination, inclusion and challenging disabling barriers. It is outward looking and focused on the things in society that can be changed or improved, like, the environment, information, communications and people’s attitudes.

It’s a problem solving approach which gives disabled people greater control over vital, even basic decisions, like, from what time to get out of bed on a morning to employability and education choices.

This approach enables you to better understand how reasonable adjustments can be implemented. It also focuses on the things you can influence or change and promotes valued skills.

In conclusion, the purpose behind the models of disability is to highlight the political struggle of disability. It analyzes the ‘problem of disability.’ It also affects policy making, so that we can make positive change in our society for people with disabilities.

Since laws are already created to discriminate against disabled people by default, we need to make sure that the Social Model of Disability is pushed to ensure equality.

For more information on the various models of disability, check out this website:

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About Daniella-Jade Lowe

Hello everyone! Welcome to my page. My name is Daniella Jade Lowe. I am a university graduate with a BA degree focused on History and Politics from the University of Bradford, England. Journalism and Politics are my passion. I have even represented Bermuda at the London 2012 Paralympic Games as a reporter for Bermuda’s Paralympian Jessica Lewis. During the games I also assessed the level of Wheelchair Accessibility at the event. I am an emerging Journalist, Politician and Disability Advocate. My motive behind doing this was to be an advocate for people with disabilities. I have a disability. It does not completely define me; it just enhances me in a way which differentiates and strengthens me. My disability should be viewed as an ability: to see the world in a different way. As a wheelchair user, I have advocated for Wheelchair Accessibility in Bermuda, by writing various articles for numerous publications on the subject. I also have a blog where I also write about various disability related issues. During Middle School and High School, I used a Garaventa StairTrac to navigate the school for classes. In fact, one of the reasons why I pursued further education and started my career in England was due to Wheelchair Accessibility. During College, I became the Disability Officer for the Students’ Union and I advocated for the students with disabilities. On July 27, 2007, I was invited by former Premier of Bermuda Dr. Ewart Brown for a ‘Brown Bag Lunch’ to discuss issues like Wheelchair Accessibility amongst other things. I have also been sporadically involved with WindReach since I was young. This is how I amplify my voice for Wheelchair Accessibility! I am also skilled in Politics, Microsoft Excel, Customer Service, Microsoft Word, and Strategic Planning. Strong media and communication professional with a BA focused in History and Politics from University of Bradford.