Social model of disability | Disability charity Scope UK (2023)

'What is the social model of disability?'

Ossie Stuart (Disability consultant): I always felt being a disabled person was a problem. After learning about the social model, it challenged me to look at disability completely differently. I myself was able to gain some confidence and... self-esteem.

Ian Macrae (Editor, Disability Now): The social model basically says, we are people with impairments and those impairments clearly have an impact on how we live our lives. But the impairments are not the things which disable us.

(Video) What is the social model of disability? - Scope video

Mik Scarlet (Broadcaster and journalist): I'm disabled by the world around me and if the world was more accessible, I would be less disabled and then I would just be left with my "impairment" i.e. what doesn't work.

It's not that my legs don't work that disabling me. It's the fact that if I'm on a flat surface, I can wheel around fine, I'm wonderfully happy. It's only when I come up to a flight of stairs.

Alice Maynard (Chair 2008-2014, Scope): As a wheelchair user, you have a slightly easier job of explaining the social model. Whereas if you're trying to explain the less physical barriers, it's much harder.

(Video) Social Model of Disability

Laurence Clark (Comedian and writer): There's barriers everywhere in life. It's to do with how communicate, to do with people's attitudes...

Kiruna Stamell (Actress): Discovering the social model was a massive liberation on another level. Yeah I was being treated differently and no it wasn't me being deficient. It was everybody else's social anxieties being projected onto me.

Laurence: The blame for you not fitting in is no longer on your shoulders.

(Video) Medical and Social Models of Disability

Ian: Suddenly my disability was out there and not in here. It was what made me realise that I was something beyond the thing that other people thought I was

Mik: It's a really liberating thing, but it also means you can change it. We can say to the world, "Look, you must put a lift in this building. You must make sure that the signage is readable for people with visual impairments."

Kiruna: If you want that equality to be real, you've really got to tackle the inequality people are experiencing in schools, workplaces, transport.

(Video) Social Model Animation

Ian: The main reason that the social model, I think, is important to disabled people is that it allows us to be a community. You achieve a whole lot more as a group.

Mik: As long as we, as disabled people, make sure that our voices are heard and that all those people that support us also have their voices heard, then I think we will get there.

Alice: I hope that Scope is doing work that will help disabled people to become prouder of who we are. Pushing boundaries around who can be included and where.

(Video) Invisible Disabilities I ITV and Scope

Laurence: Come the glorious day if it ever came where all the barriers went, y'know. We'd just be people with impairments. We wouldn't be disabled people any more.

Find out more about Scope's work and how to get involved, subscribe to Scope on YouTube.


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3. Strip for Scope this summer - #StripForScope - Scope video
4. Documenting Disability
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5. Colin Barnes : The Social Model
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6. Changing the Story on Disability? | LSE Online Event
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