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

Models of Disability

Attempts to integrate individual and social models of disability

A number of writers have been concerned that some proponents of the social model have 'thrown the baby out with the bathwater' (Crow, 1996; French, 1993; Low, 1993). They agree that it is not politically correct to talk about the pain, the physical and emotional difficulties associated with some impairments because this will detract from the focus on society's failure to remove the barriers faced by disabled people.

… we have tended to focus on disability as 'all'. Sometimes it feels as if this focus is so absolute that that we are in danger of assuming that impairment has no part at all in determining our experiences. Instead of tackling the contradictions and complexities of our experiences head on, we have chosen in our campaigns to present impairment as irrelevant, neutral and, sometimes, positive, but never, ever as the quandary it really is.
(Crow, 1996, p.58)

These authors and others have suggested that it is possible to acknowledge both the individual and the social levels as legitimate concerns, whilst maintaining a focus on societal and political change. In fact some social model theorists do accept this. Michael Oliver states that:

This denial of the pain of impairment has not, in reality been a denial at all. Rather it has been a pragmatic attempt to identify and address issues that can be changed through collective action rather than medical or professional treatment.
(Oliver, 1996a, p.48)

Page updated 14 December 2001

GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock