ECDC understands disability as the exclusion of people with impairments from family and social life, equal education, employment and access to basic services because of discrimination. This is also known as the social model of disability. ECDC uses the social model because it has been developed by disabled people, and best represents their experiences and perspectives.
The social model of disability is often contrasted with the medical model, which says that disability is the same as impairment, and so disability can be fixed using medical treatment or therapy alone.
Whilst ECDC is committed to supporting appropriate clinical and therapy services for people with disabilities, we believe that this is not enough on its own. It is essential to address the specific needs people have as a result of their impairment. For example, a Deaf person needs to learn to sign, and a polio survivor may need crutches. However, a Deaf child who can use sign language still cannot communicate if her parents, teacher and classmates don’t learn it too. A child who has crutches is still unable to benefit from education in a mainstream school if the school and staff do not accept them, understand them and barriers to entry and participation are not removed.
Social Model of Disability
Disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives.