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The social model of disability recognises that while some people have physical or psychological differences these anomalies do not affect the person behind the disability. People with disabilities are primarily challenged by the barriers in society which do not take into account their specific individual needs. These societal encumbrances exist in the physical, organizational, and personal aspects of the world. A negative attitude toward a person's mental behavior, information that is unavailable in braille, buildings without elevators could all be considered: disabling.

With this social model any person with a disability is seen as having the same desires, needs, and aspirations as any person without a disability. People with disabilities are just as capable of enjoying the freedom to make personal choices that the average person experiences. Equality for people in the disability community is often seen as similar to the struggle for equality in other socially marginalized groups. For a person with a disability, equal rights will give them the ability to make their own decisions and the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.

A disability shouldn't invoke an assumption that person is in need of a cure or pity. After all a person with a disability is a person first and foremost; not a disabled person.

In the United Kingdom, the Disability Discrimination Act defines disability using the medical model - disabled people are defined as people with certain conditions, or certain limitations on their ability to carry out ‘normal day-to-day activities’. But the requirement of employers and service providers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to their policies or practices, or physical aspects of their premises, follows the social model. By making adjustments, employers and service providers are removing the barriers that disable - according to the social model, they are effectively removing the limitations of the person's disability.

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. Certain specific conditions are excluded, including alcoholism and transsexualism.

See also

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