Symposium: Integrating the Medical and Social Models of Disability

On 15th June 2013 a symposium on “Integrating the Medical and Social Models of Disability: Time for a New Paradigm” was organized at the Indian Spinal Injury Center, New Delhi.

View symposium report

Cross the Hurdles(CTH) and Indian Spinal Injury Center (ISIC) jointly hosted this one-day symposium.

Following is the list of speakers and their topics:

  • Maj HPS Ahluwalia, Chairman ISIC- Welcome address
  • Dr. Poonam K Singh, Adviser, International Health, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GOI, Former WHO Deputy Regional Director for South-East Asia- Keynote address
  • Dr. Uma Tuli-Role of Disability Studies in promoting inclusive development
  • Dr Satendra Singh, UCMS – Embracing the Social Model
  • Shivani Gupta, Director AccessAbility- Barriers accentuating disabling conditions
  • Abha Khetarpal, CTH – Promoting Disability Studies in Healthcare
  • Dr. A K Mukherjee – Defining Disability in 21st Century
  • Dr S Y Kothari – Current approach towards disability
  • Dr. H.S.Chhabra, Director ISIC-Integrating the Medical and Social Models of Disability: Time for a New Paradigm

Concept Note

Disability studies provide nuanced ways of thinking about disease, medical ethics, and social justice in health care. It plays the role of a cultural studies field that bridges interdisciplinary academic scholarship, medicine, and patient activism along with fostering collaboration among disciplines and between the common man and the professionals.

Medical models of health care often overlook the social dimensions of health and health care. Disability studies, on the other hand, contrasts the biological model with a social model. It lays stress on finding how much can the suffering of different bodies be relieved through the adjustment, not of biological variables, but of social variables. It unpacks the role of ableism, pathologization, individualization, isolation, confinement, and lack of access in producing human suffering.

The Medical Model of disability perceives disability as a functional impairment. An integrative, biopsychosocial approach towards disability by collaborating health care and Disability Studies is required for mainstreaming of disability in an inclusive developmental agenda. Disability Studies encourages perspectives that place disability in social, cultural, and political contexts.

Available opportunities to learn about disability and rehabilitation must therefore be strengthened by ensuring that the society acquires not only the specific knowledge and skills, but also the attitudes required to provide effective service to persons with disability. Collaboration between health care professionals, university academics, persons with disability, and disability interest groups may help in ensuring that everyone is adequately sensitized to issues about disability. Disability studies, if introduced in various fields of education, especially medical education can offer an explicit commitment to assist disabled people in their fight for full equality and social inclusion. Thus a successful integration between Medical and Social Models of disability would be brought about.

Photographs from Symposium