The social model of disability was brought about by activists in the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) during the 1970s. This model is seen as the main theory which tests disability politics in Britain (Shakespeare et al 2002). The UPIAS argued that there is a major difference between impairment and disability. They defined impairment as ‘lacking part or all of a limb, or having a defective limb, organ or mechanism of the body.’ They have also defined disability as ‘the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organization which takes no or little account of people who have physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities’ (Giddens 2006).
The social model of disability can be defined as an idea that it is society that disables an individual with the way everything is constructed to meet the needs of the majority who are not disabled (Shakespeare et al 2002). Whereas, the social model can be compared with the medical model of disability which tends to focus purely on finding a cure and that to be able to fully participate in society they need to treat their ‘impairment’ (Crow 1996).