Disability Models

Disability Models

Ink pen and glasses on an open book, on its page is written “history”

Disability Models 

In contrast to the medical interpretation that views disability as a result of biological deficit, the social model emphasises social oppression as the main cause of disablement, while the affirmative model provides a positive alternative representation for people with disabilities.

Medical Model


The biomedical approach to disability mainly focuses on the person and resists consideration of environmental factors.

  • Disability is restriction or lack of ability due to impairment
  • Person with disability is identified as someone whose body doesn’t function properly or looks different
  • Disability is an individual problem that results from something wrong with the person


Social Model

Disabled people protesting for their rights

  • Disability is a disadvantage caused by the system of social structure and control
  • It is society's failure to remove the social, economic, and environmental barriers
  • The disability movement increases public awareness of disability discrimination and changes attitudes towards disability.


Affirmative Model

  • Positive social identities, both individual and collective,
  • Affirming that a positive identity can encompasses impairment as well as disability
  • Disability is a difference that should be celebrated as it can enrich people’s lives

Frustrated young man on wheelchair at the bottom of the stairway

1- https://sydney.edu.au/education_social_work/doctoral_studies/completed_theses/2015/Hasanloo.shtml

By: Dr. Zhila Hasanloo

Email: zhila.hasanloo@abilitybeyondboundaries.com.au