These models have been greeted with great skepticism in that they are though of as being less reflective of the dynamics of disability in the real world. Additionally, they are thought of as being restrictive in nature in that they force individuals to perceive disability in a predefined and very rigid manner. These models, however, do prove to be helpful in that they establish a framework which can be utilized as a means of enabling individuals to gain an intimate understanding of the issues related to disability and the perspective of those who conceive the models as well as the institutions which utilize these models in policy setting initiatives. This report focuses on the obtaining an understanding of the different models of disability and its implications and ramifications.
First and foremost, the Medical Model maintains that disability is the resultant of an underlying physical or mental limitation and is largely independent of social or geographical context. It is sometimes referred to as the Biological-Inferiority or Functional-Limitation Model.
The most poignant conceptualization of this model can be seen in the definition as set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) and devised through the contribution of several medical doctors. Under this conceptualization, a disability is defined as any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range that is considered normal for humans while impairment is defined as any or abnormality of psychological or anatomical structure or function. Additionally, a handicap is defined as any disadvantage experienced by an individual which results from an impairment or disability which limits or prevents the fulfillment of a role that has become customary for that individual (WHO, 1980).
Operating within this definition, the medical model maintains that the problem is organic in nature and its source is internal to the individual in question. It purports that the problem initiates with the individual and the solution emanates from that individual. This essentially is a very simplistic conceptualization of disability and does not allow for the interference of other factors such as socioeconomic status, the availability of employment for individuals who are characterized as disabled or impaired. None-the-less it still seeks a solution within the individual by him/her to overcome their very personal deficit and develop coping skill in order to deal with the very unique challenges faced by individuals who are classified as disabled or impaired. One of the most significant criticisms of this model is the notion that it fosters bias. This bias can be utilized as the source of discriminatory practices based on the prejudicial images of disabled employees being excessively ill and less productive than 'normal' individuals (Brisenden, 1986).
The social model maintains that disability is a direct result of environmental, social and attitudinal barriers which effectively and efficiently prevent individuals with one or more impairments from participating fully in society. This model purports that the initial damage which led to the disability is not problematic but the reactions of individuals within society is responsible for the much of the effects of the disability. Essentially
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The notion that the proper vernacular is essential to the portrayal of the marginalized could not be made more salient than in the case of describing individuals who are not as able-bodied as the rest of the population. Some individuals refer to those individuals as disabled while others refer to them as handicapped and yet other resort to the level of their impairment as a means of describing their physical, social or interpersonal functioning…
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