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Disability identity – disability pride

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This paper discusses a way of thinking about disability which has emerged out of the UK Disabled People's Movement over the last three decades in opposition to the preceding medical model of disability which viewed disability as synonymous with problem (Oliver 2009). Disabled people are increasingly challenging the notion that their embodiment is inherently problematic, and engaging politically with the social model of disability which locates difficulties experienced by people with impairments within the social arena (Crow 1996, Barnes 2004). The arguments are relevant to practitioners working in higher education who wish to engage in productive equitable relationships with disabled students and colleagues and are particularly pertinent in relation to the requirements of the Equality Act (2010) which places duties upon all public bodies. Some of the language associated with impairment and disability is unpacked, some issues which impact on identity are considered and the notion of an ‘affirmative model of disability’ (Swain and French 2000, Cameron 2011) is introduced which is gaining prominence in the literature and is congruent with the positive ethos of the Equality Act (2010).

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