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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Disability Theory: Social/Independent Living Model

This guide will provide information about the major models of disability theory.

Social Model of Disability

The social model of disability posits that disability is constructed by society and is caused by the way society is organized. Our society is made by and for non-disabled people and anyone who cannot fit in to that model is disabled. This model is supported by a considerable amount of writers who themselves are disabled. The social model emphasizes the fact that full societal participation has little to do with the abilities of a person who is disabled, but the societal constructs that prohibit them from inclusion. This model is often a critique to the medical model of disability.

The independent living model of disability is similar to the social model of disability. Its focus is more specific to advocating for the independence of people who are disabled. People with disabilities are their own experts on their needs and what services they require. 

The social model of disability. Society creates barriers for the person who is disabled.

Information from "Disability Studies" in Sage Key Concepts: Key Concepts in Learning Disabilities.

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