Social Model of Disability and Definition of Disability

What is the Social Model of Disability?

The social model of disability sees having an impairment as normal. What is not normal is to be discriminated against because you have an impairment. This is very different from the traditional view that disability is essentially about “what’s wrong with you?”

The social model believes we are disabled by negative social attitudes and physical barriers not by the impairment itself. You can download our booklet about this at the bottom of the page.

Human rights are the fundamental, universal and indivisible principles by which every human being can claim justice and equality.

As disability describes the barriers faced by people with impairments to achieving equality and justice, and because disabled people are human beings too, it follows that disability is a human rights issue.

Equal Lives is founded on a social-model understanding of disability.


What is Equal Lives’ definition of Disability?

We use the term “people who face disabling barriers” to be inclusive of those who identify as disabled people, as elderly, old or frail, as Deaf, as having a sensory impairment, a learning difficulty or disability, a mental health issue, as having poor health or a progressive condition, or the many other ways that individuals choose to describe themselves.

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