Medical Model of Disability

image001The medical model of disability refers to a sociopolitical model that notes disabilities or illnesses as the result of physical conditions that are intrinsic to the affected individual. These disabilities are considered to limit quality of life for this individual or present them with clear disadvantages.

What Is Medical Model of Disability?

The medical model for disabilities views these conditions as a problem for the affected person that is caused by trauma, disease or other health conditions which result in the need for sustained medical care or treatment from professionals. In the medical model for disabilities, the management of the condition comes in the form of a “cure” that allows the individual to adjust or alter their behavior. This actually leads to an “almost” or effective cure that makes it easier for these individuals to function. This model focuses on medical care, which has resulted in a political stance that pushes for a reform of healthcare policy to respond to these needs.

Disadvantages of Medical Model of Disability

  1. The Medical Model of Disability keeps it focus on the limitations of affected individuals or providing adaptive technology that would allow them to blend in with society. Uncritical reliance on this model can have consequences.
  2. Advocates of disability rights often criticize the medical model for inadvertently causing social degradation of those that are disabled. The efforts of this model are seen as an excessive focus on medical care when resources could be put toward other goals like societal or design inclusionary practices with universal outreach. This could include both societal and monetary benefits and costs of various forms of intervention.
  3. Other disability rights groups view the medical model as a civil rights issue, claiming that medical or charitable initiatives that portray those with disabilities as pitiable are creating a negative, disempowered image of these people instead of acknowledging disabilities as an environmental and societal issue.

Medical Model vs. Social Model of Disability

The social model of disability sees disabilities as a problem created by society due to the lack of options to fully integrate these individuals into society. The differences between this and the medical model have been outlined below.

Medical Model

Social Model

A disability is a deficiency or abnormality.

A disability is a difference.

Being disabled is considered to be negative.

Being disabled is considered neutral.

The disability resides within the individual.

The disability stems from an interaction between this individual and society.

Cures that will allow for the normalization of the individual are used to remedy the disability.

Altering the way society interacts with these individuals is used to remedy the problems associated with a disability.

A professional acts as the agent of the remedy.

The individual with the disability, an advocate or anyone that can affect the arrangements between society and the individual can act as an advocate of the remedy.

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