Equality A Diversity A Inclusion

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Definition of Disability

Forward Mid will try to address as what defines a disability, there are so many different models and the ones listed here are only the views of Forward Mid unless referenced.


What are disabilities?

Disabilities fall into three categories, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and people with mental health difficulties. The Forward Mid group is for people with physical disabilities.

How is a physical disability legally defined?

Equality and Human Rights Commission state (2007). The Disability Discrimination Act says a disabled person is someone with ′a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities′. Examples include cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and heart conditions; hearing or sight impairments, or a significant mobility difficulty; and mental health conditions or learning difficulties. People in these circumstances and some others (such as people with a facial disfigurement) are likely to have rights under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to protect them from discrimination. However, only the courts can say if a particular individual is defined as disabled under the legislation.

The Open University(2006), in common with many other organisation's, expresses the view that there are two models of disability. The Medical Model and the Social Model.

The medical model

Under the medical model, disabled people are defined by their illness or medical condition.The medical model promotes the view of a disabled person as dependent and needing to be cured or cared for, even though at this time not all conditions can be cured but those that cannot be cured most can be managed, and it justifies the way in which disabled people have been systematically excluded from society. The disabled person is the problem, not society. Control resides firmly with professionals; choices for the individual are limited to the options provided and approved by the ′helping′ expert.

Medical Model of disability

  • GP's
  • Doctors
  • Surgeons
  • Specialists
  • Speech therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Social workers
  • Special Schools
  • Special transport
  • Child development team
  • Sheltered workshops
  • Training centres
  • Benefit agency
  • Educational psychologist

The condition is the problem

The social model

The social model has been developed by disabled people in response to the medical model and the impact it has had on their lives. Under the social model, disability is caused by the society in which we live and is not the ′fault′ of an individual disabled person, or an inevitable consequence of their limitations. Disability is the product of the physical, organisational and attitudinal barriers present within society, which lead to discrimination. The removal of discrimination under the Social Model requires a change of approach and thinking in the way in which society is organised.

Social Model of Disability

  • Prejudice
  • De-valuing
  • lack of useful education
  • Discrimination in employment
  • Inaccessible information
  • Inaccessible Transport
  • Inaccessible Environment
  • Segregated services
  • Poverty
  • Belief in the medical model

The structure within society is the problem.

Can all disabilities be seen?

No not all disabilities can be seen, most people with disabilities walk amongst us without any outward sign of a disability. It is a fact that a lot of people do not know they have a disability.

If I acquire an impairment which disables me, who can I contact for information on my specific disability?

The links on the this section are for help with impairments and their respective website’s. They are laid out alphabetically by Medical name. Alternatively you could visit the Disability Sanctuary where a dedicated Online community for people with Physical, Mental, Cognitive, Developmental, Emotional & Sensory Disabilities. Find and ask questions, offer advice & information about health, work, benefits & all other Disability issue's. www.disabilitysanctuary.com

Cambridge Health Care have partially built a website called How are you? that allows you to tell the site when you are not well and how you feel, It allows your Doctor to join by invitation only, as this website is still being built there are teething problems with the saving of information. It does not ask if you have a disability.

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