Social Model of Disability

Disability is still too often viewed by some politicians, employers, organisations and members of the public as an individual tragedy, or only as a health issue.

This suggests that it’s people’s impairments which make it harder for us to be involved in society equally to others. In this thinking, the solution is to ‘fix’ individuals so we fit in to a society run by and for non-disabled people, or to offer us pity and charity.

This doesn’t explain disabled people’s experience of the world. That’s why disabled people developed the Social Model of Disability. We know that the real reason we cannot take part in everyday life on the same basis as others is because society is organised unfairly.

Society puts up barriers for disabled people. These can be bad attitudes, poor physical access, or the way organisations do things. For example, strict 9-5 working hours exclude many disabled people who would work much better with some control over their routine.

Barriers like these stop us from being fully included in everything – from work, education, and housing to entertainment and travel. Once barriers are removed, everyone can participate equally.

Individuals and organisations need to recognise how they exclude disabled people, and take practical steps to change.

Every Monday we discuss the Social Model, with specific examples of common problems and solutions. Follow or join in the conversation on Twitter at #SocialModelMonday

If you need support or advice to remove barriers effectively in your organisation, we can help you. Please do get in touch.

Useful Links

A Life Raft in a Stormy Sea: Everyday disability politics rooted in the social model by Lorraine Gradwell –

Leeds Disability Archive: The aim of the Disability Archive UK is to provide disabled people, students and scholars access to the writings of those disability activists, writers and allies whose work may no longer be easily accessible in the public domain –

Social Model (GMCDP) –

Social Model Animation (Geoff Adams-Spink) –

The Social Model of Disability (Inclusion London) –

Latest News

  • Manchester Lived Experience Leaders
    Are you a disabled person, or do you have lived experience of disability or a long-term health condition? Do you live in the city of Manchester? Could you use your lived experience and knowledge to make Manchester a better place for disabled people? If so we would love to hear from you! We have a … Read more

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