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The late 1960s saw May ’68, the rise of both the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements
The Independent Living Movement grew out of the US Disability Rights Movement , which began in the early 1970s. The IL Movement works at replacing the special education and rehabilitation experts’ concepts of integration, normalization and rehabilitation with a new paradigm developed by disabled people themselves.
UPIAS became the first disability liberation group in the UK, and one of the first in the world, and certainly the most advanced in the world.
What it had to offer disabled people was an analysis of disability - fairly basic, but an analysis of disability in which they presented a new concept. They presented disability as a social relationship in which disabled people were oppressed. And in doing this they were overturning the concept of disability as basically a biologically determined condition.
Over the years many disabled people have campaigned for “justice”, “equal rights” and “ an end to discrimination”.
By the middle of the nineteenth century British society had felt the impact of the Industrial Revolution. The harsh realities it produced created economic and social upheavals which brought about, in turn, moral panics around the fear of illness, disease and depravity. Social reformers sought to replace chaos with control - contours around what was considered ‘normal’ were drawn and those groups thought to be polluting society - outside ‘normality’ - were withdrawn from the public gaze.
The increased usage of institutionalisation, the birth of the eugenics movement and the proliferation of charities contributed towards ‘cleansing’ society of its mad and hapless cripples. Non-conformity was unacceptable and those people deemed incapable of keeping standards associated with ‘normal activities’ - productive and reproductive - had to be ‘taken care of’ in more senses than one.
Individual Model of Disability legitimises how capitalist society socially constructs and creates disability.
Social construction around dominant ideologies such as individualism and normality
Social creation – the systematic failure to address disabling barriers and institutional discrimination e.g. exploitative social relations in the labour market
Individual Model of Disability The Disabled Person “ Can’t…” walk, talk, see, hear, work, climb stairs, read written info, speak, etc. Is passive or dependant “ confined” to a wheelchair, “ housebound”, etc. Is a burden needs care, help, services; takes and doesn’t give… Is sick or ill waiting for a cure, confusion between illness and disability Object of pity or sorrow recipient of charity, has “special” needs which don’t get met by mainstream services or funding, etc.
Individual model of disability maintains the view is that disabled people need to fit into society. It justifies a cycle of exclusion and dependency due to common attitudes and prejudices as well as inappropriate practices.
The ICIDH was replaced in 2001 by the International Classification on Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) which, attempts to look at the impact of the environment, both physical and attitudinal, in disabling people living with impairments.
Within this model disability is seen as a socially created issue. An individual with an impairment will not be disabled by society , if their social environment acknowledges, removes or reduces the disabling barriers they encounter. This includes accepting their impairment and the social consequences of living with an impairment.
The social model offers an alternative understanding of disability
Disability is viewed as the outcome of ‘negative interactions’ that takes place between the impaired individual and their social environment – each side, (the impairment / environment) has an influence on the ‘interactions’
We refer to ‘negative interactions’ as being the cause of disabling barriers at the micro level of society.
Disabling barriers can be:
negative attitudes towards disabled people
policies, practices and customs
the natural or built environment
Social Model of Disability The Disabling World Inaccessible physical environments including buildings, transport, poor design, etc. Information not in accessible formats e.g. plain language, Braille, tape, large print, disk, accessible website, etc. Communication barriers e.g. few sign language Interpreters, no induction (hearing) loops or alternatives to telephones, assuming everyone communicates in the same way Prejudice e.g. attitudes, stereotyping, assumptions, etc. Discrimination e.g. inflexible or unfair systems in organisations
The social model sees disability as being imposed on top of people who have impairments. Disability is viewed as the oppressive social relationships people with impairments experience. People with impairments are disabled by the structures, attitudes and culture found in specific societies.
U sing the generic term does not mean that I do not recognise differences in experience within the group but that in exploring this we should start from the ways oppression differentially im pacts on different groups of people rather than with differences in experience among individuals with different impairments.
Mike Oliver from Capitalism, disability and ideology: A materialist critique
“ ....despite all the apparent progress that has been made since the original BCODP report was launched, the underlying reality is that disabled people continue to face the same barriers that they have always faced and that ‘disablism remains rife throughout Britain’.”