The Social Model of Disability

The Equality Act 2010 defines disability as where; “…a person has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service uses this definition in meeting our statutory and other official obligations. This definition is in line with the ‘medical model’ of disability, which sees disability as a ‘problem’ that belongs to the disabled person, and not as an issue of concern to anyone else. For example, if somebody who uses a wheelchair is unable to get into a building because of some steps, the medical model sees this as because of the wheelchair rather than the steps. In the medical model, in many cases disability can be ‘cured’ by medical intervention.

However, in Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service believes that disability is created by wider society disabling people by designing things to meet the needs of non-disabled people. This is known as the ‘social model’ of disability, and recognises that that society can do a great deal to reduce and eventually remove disabling barriers. The social model sees this as the responsibility of society, rather than of disabled people.

The social model of disability suggests that we will achieve equality for disabled people not by medical interventions or charity but by:

  • creating buildings that are accessible
  • producing information in accessible formats
  • challenging stereotypes and assumptions
  • ending segregated services
  • supporting disabled people to do things for themselves
  • ensuring that disabled people have full civil rights

Description: Plus two ticks postive about disabled people logoPositive about disabled people – the ‘Two Ticks’ symbol

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has been awarded the ‘Two Ticks’ symbol by JobCentre Plus for many years now, in recognition of our good practice in employing and supporting disabled people.

To use this symbol we have to demonstrate that we meet five commitments:

  1. We interview all disabled applicants who meet the basic job criteria, and consider them on their abilities
  2. We ensure there is a mechanism in place to discuss with disabled employees, at any time but at least once a year, what they can do to make sure they can develop and use their abilities
  3. We make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment
  4. We take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make your commitments work
  5. Each year, we review the five commitments and what has been achieved, to plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans

We place this symbol on all our recruitment advertisements, application forms and other relevant materials. Applicants who state on their monitoring forms that they are disabled and who meet the essential criteria for a job are guaranteed an interview.

Useful links

Shropshire Disability Network 

Shropshire Disability Network (SDN) was formed in 2008 to provide a powerful collective voice for disabled people across Shropshire.

Further Information

Natalie Parkinson - Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Address: Brigade Headquarters, St Michael's St, Shrewsbury, SY1 2HJ.

Telephone: 01743 260 236

Email: natalie.parkinson@shropshirefire.gov.uk