I’m not nearly as up on material about disability as I want to be. From my very limited reading, people tend to talk about a medical model of disability – defined as an outlook that takes disability to be primarily derived from people’s own bodies, thus an individual and biological condition – and about a social model of disability – defined as an outlook that takes disability to result primarily from social conditions which could be changed. [I don’t have the book in front of me just now so I’m gonna be vague on some details, this is probly a good habit for me to have, to write about stuff w/ out having it right in front of me and w/ out quoting a ton, anyways I’ll add the missing details later.] I’ve been reading this collection edited by Longmore and [INSERT NAME WHEN LATER], called the New Disability History.

There’s a really good essay [BY WHO? TITLE?] about facilities for disabled children in the late 19th and early 20th century U.S. The article argues that people he calls rehabilitationists had a social model of disability as well as elements of a medical model. They occupied what he calls a middle ground between the two. Eventually the medical model came to prominence.

The social rehabilitationist vision focused largely on work and employment, helping disabled people overcome barriers to their labor market participation, one major barrier being employment discrimination. There’s a lot more to say about all this, but what struck me reading the article was that the social model or rather a social model of disability pre-dated a medical model in the U.S., and that the two continued to conflict in different times and places, so they don’t serve as neat period markers. This is also useful for some of what I want to do with regard to workmen’s compensation and second(ary) injury funds/special indemnity funds, as way to characterize what I’m on about. That is, the impulse behind SIFs involved a social understanding of disability.

Advertisements