The social model of disability states that disability is not caused by a persons impairment or difference but by how society is structured and organized. Disability is not only within body or mind of a person but in the interaction between individuals with intellectual, bodily differences and their social environment. The model looks at ways to remove these barriers and negative attitudes that limit life choices of disabled persons. If these obstacles are removed, disabled persons become equal and independent in the society. They, therefore, have control and choices in their lives. This model was developed to replace the traditional medical model that was used to diagnose and treat disabled persons. This model advocates for ameliorating disability via a change in culture, social policies and institutional practices. An essential facet of this model concerns equality. It seeks to change society to tolerate persons with disability. This model focuses on changes required in society regarding attitudes, a positive attitude by valuing those impaired. Social support by removing barriers, availing resources and aids. Using suitable formats to convey information. Enhancing physical structures for example elevators. The social model differs with the medical model of disability. Assistive technology refers to assistive tools that are used by people with disabilities for rehabilitative and adaptive purposes. They include equipment, product systems that are used to increase and upgrade functional abilities of disabled persons. These devices enable independence by allowing disabled people to perform tasks that they were initially not able to do or were difficult (Shinohara & Wobbrock 2016). In this study am going to discuss how an understanding of the social model of disability and the availability of assistive technology help care practitioners create an enabling environment:
People with physical impairments that affect locomotion can use mobility aid devices, for example, wheelchairs, walkers crutches, and even canes. Wheelchairs are utilized by individuals whose walking is hard or impossible in cases of injury, illness or disability. This technology under the social model solution requires a ramp at the entrance to enable individuals to get into a building with ease. Walkers and crutches are used to maintain balance and stability.
Persons with visual impairments may need to reside at a public place to get help when they need it. These people also need to use assistive technology like screen readers, large print books, voice recording devices, magnifiers, and Braille. Screen readers enable easy access to electronic information. They convert text into audio. Braille consists of raised dots that represents information and can be read using fingers. Desktop magnifiers for video are devices that perform magnification to the printed materials. Large print keyboards have big printed letters on the keys.
People with hearing disability require an electroacoustic device that amplifies sound. They also depend on visual and tactile channels to receive and convey information. The device helps individuals fully participate in community activities by hearing more. Other assistive devices that could enhance hearing include digital in-ear, behind the ear and on the body aids, captions on TV and keying handsets. Additionally, people with cognitive impairments require assistive tools for memory aids, for example, the smart pen which transforms written notes into digital and audio recordings .computers and other electrical devices are used to help people following an injury to the brain (Carver et al. 2016).
Educational software is used to assist individuals with learning, reading, and comprehensive disabilities. These include word predictions note takers text enlargers and book readers. Other devices page turners, pencil grips, and book holders enable learners with impairments to fully participate in learning activities. Assistive technology devices have allowed people with disability to participate in a wide variety of sports and games. Existing sports can be improved to accommodate persons with disability, or a new game can be invented with persons with disability in mind, for instance, playing football using sticks, wheelchairs, and other games like racing, tennis, and basketball.
Home automation helps disabled people to live independently hence they opt to stay at home rather than move to a healthcare facility. For example, recorded audio messages and automated prompts. These includes switching off the oven, reminders to lock the door and kitchen implements with large grips for persons with arthritis or weakness in their hands. Medication dispensers with alarms to remind people to take medication. In entertainment, closed captioning enables people with hearing problems to enjoy television viewing and movies, adaptive switches enables children with impaired motor skills to effectively play with their toys. Some tools aid in daily activities for example eating and dressing. These include adapted utensils and costumed designed shower stalls and toilet seats. Alternative communication allows a child who is not able to speak or their speech not understood to communicate properly. These includes computers, picture boards, and communication software (Carver et al. 2016).
Positioning devices are used to support physically disabled person to remain in a normal position without becoming exhausted these includes modifiable tables, chairs straps, and wedges. Vehicles can also be modified to make it easier for disabled individuals to operate them for instance, foot pedals can be elevated or substituted with hand-controlled ones.
Prosthetics are used to replace a body part that is missing. These are biomechatronics that assist and enhance motor control following a disease, injury or defect. This technology enables the use of mechanical devices with skeletal, muscular and nervous systems to help in motor control. These include artificial eyes, limbs, hearing aids, and dentures. Also, individuals deprived of stimulation of senses can use sensory assistance or neurological assistive devices.
Assistive technology enables persons with disability to participate entirely in all aspects of life, increasing their opportunities and capabilities. It promotes independence and full control for persons with disability. Hence this leads to improvements in many fields including learning, motor, social, and cognitive and communication. It also lightens help care practitioners load.
The social model of disability contends for the removal of barriers or elements of the social structure which limits people with disability. Disabled people can fully participate in mainstream society just like other people hence enabling independence, equality in society and efficient control of their lives. As cited above, these barriers can be inaccessible buildings, unfavorable transport, lack of access to information, laid back stereotype, prejudice, rigid organizational practices, and procedures. With these adjustments, the load to caregivers reduces due to the creation of an enabling environment for people with disabilities (Thompson 2016).
Carver, J., Ganus, A., Ivey, J. M., Plummer, T., & Eubank, A. (2016). The impact of mobility assistive technology devices on participation for individuals with disabilities. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 11(6), 468-477.
Shinohara, K., & Wobbrock, J. O. (2016). Self-conscious or self-confident? A diary study conceptualizing the social accessibility of assistive technology. ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing (TACCESS), 8(2), 5.
Thompson, L. S. C. A. (2016). Moving Beyond the Limits of Disability Inclusion: Using the Concept of Belonging Through Friendship to Improve the Outcome of the Social Model of Disability. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, International Journal of Social, Behavioral, Educational, Economic, Business and Industrial Engineering, 10(5), 1454-1457.
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