Providing Learning Support for d/Deaf Students Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities

Medical and Social Models of Disability as Applied to Deafness

The medical and social models of disability are dealt with in detail elsewhere (see Overview Guide). The Medical Model emphasises dependency, a focus on the medical condition from which the deafness results and the failure of medicine to rectify it. It focuses on passivity, helplessness and the d/Deaf person being a victim of their 'unfortunate' situation. The Social Model of d/Deaf disability, on the other hand, would focus on the integrity of the d/Deaf person, on enhanced self-knowledge, on the fact of belonging to a defined cultural community which has, for some, its own language, norms and identity. This model would see the difficulties that d/Deaf people experience as potentially a form of discrimination and more of an issue of equal opportunities rather than of personal inadequacies. The medical model may be seen as limiting, the social model as liberating.

Most people would not think of themselves as discriminating against particular groups. Indeed in the UK and in many other countries it is illegal to discriminate on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation and disabilities. For many academics, having a d/Deaf or hearing-impaired student is a rare occurrence. However, a much larger proportion of academics will regularly teach students who are non-native speakers of English. There are many useful parallels that could be made between these two groups. Both may need:

Page updated 14 December 2001

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