Social Model of Disability

The social model of disability says that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives.

In contrast the medical model of disability says that disability is caused by not having a ‘normal’ body that functions in a ‘normal’ way. This idea suggests that disabled people cannot engage in society and that their disability must be fixed in order to live a fulfilling life.

Disabled people developed the social model of disability because the traditional medical model did not explain their personal experience of disability or help to develop more inclusive ways of living.

People with impairments are disabled by the fact that they are excluded from participation within the mainstream of society as a result of physical, organisational and attitudinal barriers.

These barriers prevent them from gaining equal access to information, education, employment, public transport, housing and social/recreational opportunities.

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Kashka Georgeson Crippen Raj JeyarajDorian SripeDanielle MorganMary AshleyAnonymousEmily Mannino-JeattOlivia BurgonNaomi and Benji ReidThe Buzz ClubGraeme BrittlesTaimour Fazlani

Kashka Georgeson

Side Eye


the eyes and eyebrows of a light brown skinned person wearing glasses. The eyes are looking directly at the viewer.
I glare at people in public.

a blurred image of the eyes and eyebrows of a light brown skinned person wearing glasses. The eyes are looking directly at the viewer.

I squint people in public

A royal blue background with a large orange circle slightly right of centre, this circle has a number of other smaller white circles three are quite bright the others are faded in colour.

A few years ago I dreamt I was on the roof of a building, in a desert. I could feel the cool tiles beneath my feet and around me there was nothing but night. As I looked into the sky I saw a giant moon, swelling & wobbling across the sky. The edges of the moon turned red, then as the light in it seemed to subside, another moon appeared, then another. Suddenly the sky was filled with these silver, white orbs moving towards me. I wasn’t scared. I knew that they were moving closer so that I could see them in their detail and beauty. And as each one faded back from me I knew they were going to lighten the darkness in someone else’s sky. I don’t see the moon so much any more and I haven’t seen a star in years. But on days when my oedema is bad I pretend the distortions in my vision are moons and friendly lights, like in the dream. Macular edema is swelling of the part of your eye responsible for detailed, central vision.


A young black woman in a purple top and blue jeans and using a pair of red crutches is being confronted by her mixed race parents. The white father, who has a hangdog expression on his face along with a droopy brown moustache and who is wearing a blue top and grey trousers, is standing behind his black wife. She is wearing an orange top over a deep red skirt and has her hands on her hips. The mother is saying to the young woman;"What do you mean you're a Lesbian - we thought you were Disabled?!" A white woman with orange hair and wearing a purple cardigan over a pink dress is handing out large labels to two disabled people. The labels she is holding have ‘tragic’ and ‘pathetic’ printed upon them. On the floor behind her are two more labels that state ‘less able’ and ‘failure’. One of the disabled people is a white male with brown hair wearing a red, long sleeved jumper and blue jeans. He has a label around his neck with the word ‘nutter’ printed upon it. Another white male with brown hair, wearing a dark red top and blue trousers is sitting in a red, self propelled wheelchair. He has two labels around his neck which read ‘brave’ and ‘burden’. The woman is saying to him: “Come along now, one more label and you’re ready to face the world!”
Three disabled people are sitting at the end of a large conference table. They represent a mixture of impairment, gender and cultural diversity. At the other end of the table are several men and women wearing business suits. Behind them is a white board on which a black male is writing ‘Consultation on ecotowns. Cheap, good quality …’. One of the business men is carrying a tray on which are several cups and saucers. He is saying to his colleagues whilst gesturing down the table at the disabled participants: “Do you think they take sugar?!”In this cartoon a smart looking man is giving out leaflets and is standing alongside of a sign that says 'Support your local mental health users group'. A woman is standing in front of him looking at him quizzically. She is saying: "But you don't look like you're one of those mentally ill!" He replies: "That's because I'm disguised as a human being today!"

Raj Jeyaraj

A young asian man with one arm is wearing yellow trousers and a black jacket. He is sat with his foot up and is tying his laces with one hand.

“I tie my own laces”

Dorian Stripe - Story

“Sorry, mate, you’ll have to pay for your legs, too.”

Dylan stopped. Had he heard right?

“But no one else has had to pay for their legs,” he said, voice starting to tremble. The bouncer shook his head.

“Your legs are gonna enjoy the club too, aren’t they? You’ll either have to pay for them separately or leave them outside.”

“How do you expect me to get in without my legs?”

Dylan saw the bouncer’s expression steel, and sighed, bringing his tone down.

“What if there was a fire? Am I supposed to pull myself out with my hands?”

The security worker was clearly getting sick of this conversation.

“Look. I just work the door.”

Dylan looked helplessly at his legs, then reached into his pocket.

“I don’t know if I have the money,” he whispered.

“Pay your way or move,” grunted the bouncer.

“I’m just trying to go dancing with my girlfriend,” Dylan pleaded. The bouncer scoffed, and Dylan knew exactly what he was thinking. Girlfriend? Ha.

“Well then she can be your legs, can’t she?” he said, as if this was a stupidly simple answer.

Dylan snapped, “That’s not her job!”

The security guard rolled his eyes, and the people behind Dylan began to mutter.

“…shouldn’t be out here anyway…”
“…demanding special treatment…”

Dylan’s shoulders sagged as the bouncer yanked him back suddenly and out of the way of the queue.

“Go home, mate. This isn’t your scene, anyway.”

With that, the bouncer turned his back on Dylan and began to admit the frustrated queue, apologising as many of them grumbled.

Dylan turned to look at the woman who on Thursday nights worked as his legs, sighed, and gestured for her to take him home.

Danielle Morgan – writing

Tricky stuff!
*Getting down stairs, it makes my knees hurt
*Talking to people I don’t know
*I get nervous when new people are close to me
*It’s a little bit hard when people shout down my ear!
*I’m not very good at big words
*I get upset and angry when people don’t listen to me
*My friends sometimes talk over me – the noise melts my head and I’m like ‘Jeez, shhhh and let me think’!!
Things that help!
*More sign language and symbols would help me to understand
*I need time to get to know people and feel confident
*I need time to think about what’s going on in my head before I speak

Mary Ashley - Very Tri-ing

So I tryed. Very harb.
Two fit in.
always felt, A lone.
Not that i bibnt’ understanb.
because i bid.

I always did.
Conversaytionalley, im good.
paulity in writing is only won way.
Everywon nows.
But it is insisted.
On the grounds of;
Stardererdising peoqle, hoo believe
their is normal.

this hoo dont’ fit there,
_|ife isnt fare.
Because thos macking the rules,
decided so.

I can tork.
But i hat writin
and hat reeding.
But im good at lots eels.

By Mary Ashley

Story - Anonymous

The Barriers of Living with a disability
Hello, I am 19 years old and I’ve got Autism and ADHD.
Every since I was a child, there was a difference in me. Crying like any toddler of his/hers time. But the signs were there It became more than a non disabled child.
This prompted my parents to find out what was wrong with me.
A visit later I was diagonsed with Autism and ADHD Antention, diafecey, hyperactivity, disorder.
Autism has given me a different perspective on life, I tend to know changes quickly. But It also means having relationships and understanding are a bit difficult

Story - Emily Mannino-Jeatt

Hello my name is Emily Mannino-Jeatt and I was born with downs syndrome. I was born on the 10th January 1996.
Having downs syndrome it is always hard and I can get bullied a lot like people laughing at me, calling me names, talking about me behind my back and of course talking about my downs syndrome and always thinking I can’t understand anything. And in society funding can be hard, politions talking about people like me can’t do anything and can’t reach to our dreams and that hurts me badly.
Story - Olivia Burgon

Life of a learning disability girl
I sometimes wish that I didn’t have specail needs, then I would be abel to drive, go out by myself, meet up with friends, have a boyfriend, get marriers, have children, go to universaty, graduate, have a good job, have less worries, be abel to take myself to the gyn, shopping etc.
But unfortunately I can’t do or be all thoese things becaues of my learning disabilitys!
People think that I have a great life becaues I do lots with my family, but if pepole put thereself in my shoes, they could see how oeverwhelemd I get in social situations, how my anixetys takes over me becaues I don;t look like I have special needs so pepole asume that I am just shy but I struggle to start a converstation, I feel icesolated becaues I can’t do and go as I pleas becaues my road sfaty isn’t so good. I struggle with money so I need someone to help me, I wish that I could go to a normal uni and I possbiely be a nurse like my mum and I wish that I could meet a nice boy, marrie him and start a family with him!

Naomi and Benji Reid

Four images two above and two below. All the images are of the same black women in the top left hand picture her body is side on the camera and her head is looking back over her shoulder towards the floor. The picture is of just her head and shoulder. She has an afro and is naked. In the top right hand picture you can see her head and shoulders. She is side on to the camera facing to the left. Her face is looking up to the sky and she is screaming with her eyes shut. The bottom left hand picture is a mirrored picture of the woman screaming up she is facing to the right. The bottom right hand picture is the mirror image of the top left hand picture.

Two photos of me by Benji Reid, which I positioned like this as I think it gives a relatively clear visual representation of my constant state of being upset at the various racist and sexist things that I both live and read about 7/7, being labelled angry because I’m a black woman and everything we say is taken as being anger by default, which then angers me, alienates me and leads me to being even more upset – rinse and repeat. All the while navigating bipolarity and adhd with medication that only makes me tired and intensifies my nightmares. I have no dreams left for I spend all my energy battling not only nightmares in my sleep, but the nightmare of being a black woman in a patriarchal white supremacist society.

By Naomi M and Benji Reid

The Buzz Club

A pencil drawn picture on A3 paper. The picture depicts a stick person in a wheelchair with a steep kerb underneath them above the persons head is reads ’drop the kerbs’ next to the person there is a speech bubble that says ‘I have to wheel 1 mile to the next zebra crossing so drop the kerb’ to the right of the stick figure in bubble writing is says ‘drop the kerb’

Graeme Brittles

Two cartoon panel drawings. The first panel has a pencil drawing of a stick person, the stick person is smiling there is one musical note next to him, one speech bubble with two squiggly lines in it and there are four thin lines in red, green, blue and yellow coming down from the top of the page. In the second panel the stick figure is upset with both hands on his head there are three musical notes, three speech bubbles with squiggly lines in them and 10 thick lines in red, green, blue and yellow coming down from the top and sides of the page.

Taimour Fazlani

A line drawing of the head and torso of south asian man. The man is wearing a yellow turban and has a mustache. The image is simple and the figure doesn’t have mouth or eyes his is wearing a v-necked t-shirt with two buttons. Under the image is the text - Support for South Asian Men. “As an asian man what if I go to a service or group and see someone who recognises me, it will get out to my family to my community” (Service User) (A consultation on Mental Ill Health in South Asian Communities, 2011) A line drawing of the head and torso of south asian man. The man has black shortish hair and a black beard. The image is simple and the figure doesn’t have mouth or eyes his is wearing a v-necked t-shirt. Under the image is the text - Support for South Asian Men. “My in-laws - one tried to commit suicide. Still to date I don’t think that person has received the help they needed” (Service User) (A consultation on Mental Ill Health in South Asian Communities, 2011) A line drawing of the head and torso of south asian man. The man has black short hair with a side parting and a mustache. The image is simple and the figure doesn’t have eyes his is wearing a collared t-shirt. Under the image is the text - Support for South Asian Men. “sometimes all an individual requires is someone who to just listen to them and a professional to take some time out in order to do this. It is not always about having a piece of paper in front of them that needs to be filled out ” (Service User) (A consultation on Mental Ill Health in South Asian Communities, 2011)

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