Social model

The social model of disability proposes that barriers, prejudice and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently) are the ultimate factors defining who is disabled and who is not in a particular society. We support the social model of disability.

The social model of disability makes the important distinction between ‘impairment’ and ‘disability’.

The social model has been worked out by people with a disability who feel that the medical model does not give an accurate explanation for their exclusion from mainstream society – because their experiences have shown them that most of their problems are not caused by their impairments, but by the way society is organised. This is an important viewpoint, and has led organisations to think about how they can make adjustments.

Society is shown to disable people who have impairments because the way it has been set up prevents people with a disability from taking part in every day life. Removing the barriers which exclude people who have impairments can bring about this change.

Devon County Council is removing or altering as many barriers as possible to people with a disability.

We can take a social approach to disability by identifying and getting rid of the disabling barriers which are within our control such as management practices, the way work is organised, or building design.

We can also assist service users and employees who have disabilities to get around other barriers over which our organisation has no direct control. For example, we can enable an employee with a disability to start work later than her or his non-disabled colleagues because it takes her or him longer to get to work because of an inaccessible transport system.

We will all examine our policies, procedures and practices to ensure that we actively include people with a disability.