The Social Model of Disability is a new term for me:
The social model of disability is a way of viewing the world, developed by disabled people.
The model says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference. Barriers can be physical, like buildings not having accessible toilets. Or they can be caused by people’s attitudes to difference, like assuming disabled people can’t do certain things.
The social model helps us recognise barriers that make life harder for disabled people. Removing these barriers creates equality and offers disabled people more independence, choice and control.
The term special needs is one that I’ve never liked; reading the tenets of the social model of disability makes me realize that one of the reasons why is that it places focus in the wrong place: “special needs children” don’t have “special” needs, they have the needs they have (as we all do).
The needs they have may be unmet, but they are only “special” because we choose to class them as exceptional.
People are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference.