Disability services provide a wide range of services to people with disabilities and their families. These services enable people to live more independent lives.
In recent years, disability services have adopted a more rights-based approach to service provision. This is referred to as the social model of disability. It is based on the idea that disability support services Melbourne is not only an impairment but also an expression of the social and physical environment in which a person lives.
What is a disability?
A disability is a condition that makes it more difficult to perform certain activities (activity limitation), or interact with the world around you (participation restrictions).
People with disabilities are a diverse group, with many different types of needs. Some disabilities are obvious like low vision or blindness, while others are more subtle such as chronic fatigue syndrome and back pain.
Despite their differences, disability affects all human beings. Over 1 billion people – about 15% of the global population – experience disability at some point in their lives.
People with disabilities are protected from discrimination under Federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This law prohibits discrimination in employment and State and local government services, public accommodations and transportation, and telecommunications.
The medical model of disability assumes that an individual’s impairment is due to a physical problem that can be treated with medical treatment. This can lead policies that focus on compensating people and segregated services.
The social model of disability, on the other hand, distinguishes between impairment and disability, arguing that a person’s impairment does not automatically exclude them from society. It is important to consider both the positive and negative aspects of a disability.
A child with a visual impairment might be happy to read a book and have their sighted friends listen together. This is impossible under the medical model, but it is possible to ensure that children who have visual impairments can participate in cultural activities.
Each model has its strengths and weaknesses, but they all have an impact upon disabled people’s lives at one time or another. It is important to fully understand these models so you can make informed decisions about your health care.
The social model recognises that a range of environmental and societal barriers exclude people from participating in society. This contrasts with the medical model which views disability as a result a person’s diagnosis and deficiencies.
It also recognises that attitudes in society can prevent people from being equal. This is known as disablism, and it is often the main reason disabled people don’t have equal access to opportunities.
For example, your child with a visual impairment may want to read the latest best-selling book, but can’t due to the lack of accessible formats. A social model solution would ensure that full-text audio-recordings are made available when the book is published, so that they can chat about it with their friends.
This is an important way to challenge negative images of disability. These can be found in literature, cinema and charity-imagery. The social model can help to challenge these, by pointing to the reasons why they are so prevalent.
Models of disability are tools for defining impairment and, ultimately, for providing a basis upon which government and society can devise strategies for meeting the needs of disabled people.
A variety of models and perspectives exist, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Each reveals the ways in which our society provides or limits access to work, goods, services, economic influence and political power for people with disabilities.
The medical model views disability as a deficiency, an abnormality or defect that can be ‘cured’ by medicine and healthcare professionals. The medical model sees the ‘problem’ as the person with the disability, and the’solution’ as those who can promote change.
The social model also values disability as human diversity. However, it views ableism and lack of accessibility as the main problems. It considers those who can encourage change to be society, disability culture in general, and social movements. The goal is to eliminate barriers that prevent people with disabilities from gaining access to goods, services, and political power.