Sickness and the Social Model

I have heard to said by a few people like ‘sickness’ as opposed to ‘impairment’ does not fit into the social model because the experience of sickness is ‘so much worse’. I believe this is incorrect and somewhat arrogant on many levels.

Its firstly assume impairment is easy and ‘can be fixed’ by the social environment and that is not the case. The social model removes barriers, not just physical barriers but all barriers, that create disability, it does not remove impairment. Each impairment will have their own hidden effects which people without that impairment which not understand nor need to know about.

In this way, there is no difference between impairment and sickness, especially when there is ongoing effects. The social model can make a difference for people with many impairments beyond physical access. It is about employers changing their workplace culture to enable people to work at home or in a way that makes the most of their abilities, and so on.

While the social model does not deal with pain and sickness, it also does not and never did deal with any impairment. The way we manage our conditions is often a private matter and we can never assume we are the only person ever to suffer. It is however about building a life for ourselves where we can best manage what we need and it is always better to do that with a positive attitude as we reach an acceptance of who we are.

If you like what I say, have a look at my website at or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

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