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Traditional Model of Disability • For thousands of years peoples lives were ruled by superstition and interpretations of the nature which depended on all powerful deities or Gods. Disabled people were penitent sinners, were figures of fun or freaks . We were often seen as evil or seeking to get our revenge. • These stereotypes persist in literature and the media today. • We were the useless eaters of the Third Reich or a ‘race danger’ in the UK

Beginnings of medical model thinking The Age of Enlightenment in 18th and 19th centuries led to a belief in the scientific method and that ‘Man’ could tame and control nature. Anatomy and the development of medical science became obsessed with putting new knowledge into curing and normalising disabled people. Impairment became the focus.

Sir Francis Galton , in the 1860s initially developed the concepts of eugenics, arguing that “Since many human societies sought to protect the underprivileged and weak, those societies were at odds with the natural selection responsible for the extinction of the weakest. Only by changing these policies can society be saved from a reversion to mediocrity�.

EUGENICIST THINKING “The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feebleminded classes, coupled with a steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks constitutes a race danger. I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed up before another year has passed.� Winston Churchill MP, Home Secretary at the time the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913 became law. 1

From about 1907 onwards many non-catholic countries adopted eugenic policies, especially favouring compulsory sterilization. This included Canada, Australia, the UK, Norway, France, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland and Switzerland. Sweden forcibly sterilized 62,000 ‘unfits’; The USA sterilized 64,000 women. A favourable report published in California at that time was widely cited by the Nazi party as evidence that such programmes were feasible and humane. They then went on to sterilize 450 000 Germans leading to the extermination of thousands of disabled children and adults prior to the second world war.

“ Revolutions begin when people who are defined as problems achieve the power to redefine the problem� John McKnight The Careless society

Over the last 30 years disabled people have organised a Disabled People’s Movement demanding full Civil Rights leading to the Disability Discrimination Act

Medical and Social Model Thinking in Young Peoples Services MEDICAL MODEL THINKING


Child is faulty

Child is valued


Strengths and Needs defined by self and others


Identify Barriers and develop solutions

Impairment becomes Focus of attention

Outcome based programme designed

Assessment, monitoring, programmes, of therapy imposed

Resources are made available to ordinary services

Segregation and alternative services

Training for Parents and Professionals

Ordinary needs put on hold

Relationships nurtured

Re-entry if normal enough OR Permanent Exclusion

Diversity Welcomed Child is Included

Society remains unchanged

Society Evolves


Some important campaigns which changed the lives of disabled people  The campaign for a Disability Allowance  The campaign for Direct Payments  The campaign for accessible transport  The ‘Section 316’ campaign  The campaign for anti-discrimination legislation  The campaign against assisted suicide (ongoing)


Young people take the message to the DFES

HEYA Document  
HEYA Document  

Manual for the DfES on listening to young disabled people