Home » E-Learning » MA in Open & Distance Education » H810: Accessible Online Learning » Do models of disability lead to different stereotypes?

Do models of disability lead to different stereotypes?

I enjoyed reading the whole Kaplan article, she mentions stereotypes a few times which got me thinking how the models often lead to stereotypes of people with disabilities.

Medical Model – sick role = excused from certain activities (Kaplan, 2000), currently somewhat scapegoated as fraudsters have permeated benefit-related aspects.  Stereotypes from victim to criminal to sponger.  In this model a disabled person is expected to rely on medical support to ‘improve’ or be ‘cured’.

Rehabilitation Model (related to Medical Model)   – disabilities are/may be ameliorated by professional supports.  Popularised by WWII war veterans and currently Paralympians (less publicised but related Special Olympians) – 2 heroic stereotypes I wouldn’t want to feel under pressure to emulate when I might just prefer to live my unremarkable life.

Social Model – States the environment is the disabling factor.   Doesn’t stereotype?

Charity Model – charity case, back to victim stereotype, someone who needs help and support, isn’t independent.

Administrative Model – People with disabilities are the sum of the forms they fill in and boxes they tick.  Assuming the forms are accessible and people declare any disabilities.  Provides information for other models.

Moral Model -Probably says more about religious stereotypes?  Pray/believe/repent enough and you’ll be healed… Or just wait for judgement day?  Or maybe God just made you this way for a particularly special reason?  Sinner or martyr?  Also has a cultural component like social model…

The Disability Model – normalisation puts people with disabilities as just another group of people with all the similarities and differences that you find in all large populations i.e. being autistic doesn’t also necessarily make you a savant with a special talent.  Purposefully doesn’t stereotype.  Relates to social model.

Legal Model – Wants people with disabilities to prove they’re disabled and disabled enough or not for whatever purpose (usually work-related, as in ability to work or not, and in discrimination cases).  Kaplan refers to American Disability Act plenty here.  Set one-size-fits-no-one criteria takes over as disabilities are labelled to the nth degree and spliced and diced into set pigeon holes.  Sounds quite dehumanising and  demoralising and yet the act is designed to counter discrimination.  Maybe I’m getting mixed up with the medical model?  Culturally-driven.

Universal Model – everyone may have a disability.  We all fit somewhere on the continuum of disability.  Non-stereotyping.

Minority Model – People with disabilities are a subset of the general population.  Stereotyped as different.

Discrimination Model? –  You have a disability if you are treated as having one or disabled by others actions and perceptions and assumptions.  Or because you’re in employment are considered not to have a disability, regardless.  Little ownership for those classed as disabled here, other peoples’ stereotypes decide.

Will sort myself out and head to the wiki minus the stereotypes.


Kaplan, D. (2000) ‘The definition of disability: perspective of the disability community’, Journal of Health Care Law & Policy, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 352–64


1 Comment

  1. Manuela says:

    Reblogged this on Aprendizaje infinito and commented:
    Universal Model – everyone may have a disability. We all fit somewhere on the continuum of disability. Non-stereotyping.

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