Disability Chapter uri icon


  • Cambridge University Press 2007. Disability has traditionally been defined by prevailing medical and legal systems across cultures. Less apparent have been social and technological contributions that substantially determine the experience of disability. The many and multidisciplinary definitions of disability in clinical, legal and academic life inadvertently compromise efforts to develop, sponsor and enact effective policy and service for persons who live with disabling conditions (Walkup, 2000). Theoretical models of disability The most pervasive definitions of disability have been provided by disciplines associated with healthcare delivery. Contemporary perspectives have evolved in response to the increase of chronic health conditions across societies generally, and from criticisms of the medical model that recognize the broader policy, psychological and socio-economic issues associated with the management of disabling conditions over time and throughout communities. Medical model of disability The medical model of disability is the traditional and predominant model. Essentially, healthcare services which flow from this model assume a find it and fix it perspective: health problems are diagnosed and specialized services are prescribed to cure the problem (Kaplan, 2002). This perspective is most effective in the detection and treatment of acute health problems; so effective, in fact, that this model has guided the development and status of medical training, facilities and specialties. The medical model is also responsible for the rapid and effective response to the acute needs of persons with physical disabilities and other chronic health conditions, and the first initiatives to address issues of improved care, survival and quality of life can be attributed to professions who embraced the medical model.

author list (cited authors)

  • Elliott, T. R., & Dreer, L.

complete list of authors

  • Elliott, Timothy R||Dreer, Laura

Book Title


publication date

  • January 1, 2007 11:11 AM