Issues in Providing Learning Support for Disabled Students Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities

Models of Disability

Abstract: This section explores the meaning of disability, looking at individual, charitable, medical, social and integrated models of disability. There is discussion of the implications of these models for academic staff. The use and significance of the terminology applied to disabled people is considered.

Why do you need to know about models of disability?

Models of disability, like all models, are representations of reality, in this case the reality of disabled peoples' life experiences. These models influence the attitudes and behaviour of disabled and non-disabled people alike. Knowledge of these models can help you examine your own approach to supporting disabled students on field trips.

Over the past three decades there has been a shift in thinking towards the position of disabled people in society. The debate is changing from how can disabled people be best cared for, to how can they attain civil rights and achieve social and economic integration. This is reflected in a move from institutional to community care, from segregated to integrated education and in the adoption of the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act. As we look at different models of disability you will see that each has implications for how you view the provision for disabled students.

Page updated 14 December 2001

GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock