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More Information About Disability


The medical model of disability is a model by which illness or disability is the result of a physical condition, is intrinsic to the individual (it is part of that individual’s own body), may reduce the individual's quality of life, and causes clear disadvantages to the individual.

As a result, curing or managing illness or disability revolves around identifying the illness or disability, understanding it and learning to control and alter its course. Therefore, and by extension, a compassionate or just society invests resources in health care and related services in an attempt to cure disabilities medically, expand functionality and/or improve functioning thus allowing disabled persons a more "normal" life. The medical profession's responsibility and potential in this area is central.

The medical model of disability is often cited by disability rights groups when evaluating the costs and benefits of various interventions, be they medical, surgical, social or occupational: from prosthetics, "cures", and medical tests such as genetic screening or preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Often, a medical model of disability is used to justify large investment in these procedures, technologies and research, when adaptation of the disabled person's environment might ultimately be cheaper and more attainable.

Some disability rights groups see the medical model of disability as a civil rights issue, and criticise charitable or medical initiatives that use it in their portrayal of disabled people, because it promotes a negative, disempowered image of people with disabilities, rather than casting disability as a political, social and environmental problem. Various sociologists (Zola, Parsons) studied the socio-cultural aspects of "normalcy" and the pressure it exerts on individuals to conform.
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