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Social Model of Disability as Youth Work Tool for Inclusion

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The tool introduces the Social Model of Disability as Youth Work Tool for Inclusion.
The model is debated versus the Medical model of disability arguing that societies are acting disabling bodies and hold the responsibility and capacity to enable.

Aims of the tool

To bring knowledge and develop attitudes towards an inclusive social approach in youth work, based on the social model of disability and aiming at inclusion of young people with disabilities via provision of adequate access and opportunities.

Description of the tool

The tool presents the social model of disability as a youth-friendly approach to include young people with disabilities in youth work, education and employment.

The social model of disability is discussed in its reaction to the (still dominant in many countries in Europe) medical model of disability which in itself is a functional analysis of the body as machine to be fixed in order to conform with normative values.

The social model of disability can be used in youth work as a pro-active approach that identifies systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently) that mean society is the main contributory factor in disabling people. While physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychological variations, may cause individual functional limitation or impairments, these do not have to lead to disability unless society fails to take account of and include people regardless of their individual differences.

A fundamental aspect of the social model concerns equality. The struggle for equality is often compared to the struggles of other socially marginalized groups. Equal rights are said to give empowerment and the "ability" to make decisions and the opportunity to live life to the fullest.

A related phrase often used by disability rights campaigners, as with other social activism, is "Nothing About Us Without Us."

Practical Examples:

"The social model of disability focuses on changes required in society. These might be in terms of:

Attitudes, for example a more positive attitude toward certain mental traits or behaviors, or not underestimating the potential quality of life of those with impairments.
Social support, for example help dealing with barriers; resources, aids or positive discrimination to overcome them, for example providing a buddy to explain work culture for an employee with autism,
Information, for example using suitable formats (e.g. Braille) or levels (e.g. simplicity of language) or coverage (e.g. explaining issues others may take for granted),
Physical structures, for example buildings with sloped access and elevators, or
Flexible work hours for people with circadian rhythm sleep disorders or, for example, for people who experience anxiety/panic attacks in rush hour traffic."


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SALTO cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.

Tool overview

Social Model of Disability as Youth Work Tool for Inclusion

This tool addresses

Social Inclusion, Disability

Materials needed:

Beemer, laptop, screen


90 min

Behind the tool

The tool was created by

Borislava Daskalova

in the context of

SALTO Inclusion "TC Ability" course

The tool has been experimented in

SALTO Inclusion "TC Ability" course

The tool was published to the Toolbox by

Bo Maria Daskalova (on 11 June 2013)

and last modified

10 June 2013

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