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Episode 2: What is Disability?

Episode 2: What is Disability?

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1. Sin model of disability - disability is seen as a sign of one’s own/parent’s sin.

2. Eugenic Model of disability - disabilities are a bad variation that needs to be “weeded out” of the population. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
3. Charity model of disability - disabilities exist as an opportunity for non-disabled people to demonstrate their goodness.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
4. Medical model of disability - disability is a medical problem to be fixed or motivated through drugs, surgery, technology, or therapy. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
5. Social model of disability - encourages changing society to make it more inclusive, not trying to fix people who don’t need fixing.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
6. Cultural model of disability - encourages people to see disability as a form of diversity like race, gender, sexuality, religion or ethnicity.⠀⠀

Models of Disability:

Episode Expert:

John Kramer Disability Boston University

John Kramer 

Earned his PhD in Disability Studies in 2009, with his work interests addressing the mutual support roles of siblings in aging families and issues of future planning for people with Intellectual Disabilities and Disability Studies critiques of family disability research.


John is currently working with the State Systems research team at the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts at Boston on systems change and employment issues for people with disabilities. John co-founded the Sibling Leadership Network. This network connects brothers and sisters of people with intellectual disabilities, siblings with intellectual disabilities, and professionals interested in policy, services, and research related to siblings and disability. John also co-founded the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network (MSSN) and Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters, both statewide advocacy groups.

Be sure to follow our amazing artist, Jewel Lin, at 

Episode 2 Reference Links:

Dr. John Kramer

Parallels in time: a History of Developmental Disabilities

Disability Social History Project

Buck vs Bell: Supreme Court Case on Eugenics

Social Animation Video

Eugenics in the United States: Video

Clip from "Talk" by the Disability Rights Commission: Video

The Last Children of Down Syndrome Prenatal testing is changing who gets born and who doesn’t. This is just the beginning.


Goffman, E. (1963). Group Alignment and Ego Identity. In Stigma: notes on the management of 

spoiled identity (pp. 105-125). New York, NY: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Albrecht, G. L., Seelman, K. D., & Bury, M. (2001). Handbook of Disability Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Disarming Disability Sarah Tuberty Nicole Kelly
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