According to the UK Green Party website the Green Party will try to achieve the following if they gain power at the 2010 general election:

Disabled Terms used

DY100 For the purposes of this policy base, the term ‘disability’ refers not to the situation of having a physical, mental or other impairment. Instead it refers to the widespread phenomenon of people being unable to do things in society specifically because society has failed to reconstruct itself (physically and culturally) in all the possible ways that would ensure that an individual’s impairments are not a barrier to their full participation.

Disabled Background

DY200 There are currently two basic approaches to the subject of disability:

a) The medical model of disability focuses on an individual’s impairment as the root of the problem. The impairment (e.g. no use of the legs) causes the disability (e.g. inability to walk) and the result of this is handicap (reduced ability to participate fully in society).

This approach has been rejected by many disabled people; it has been almost totally defined by non-disabled people – often by administrators who define disablement in the way most suited to bureaucratic convenience, or by charities not controlled by disabled people themselves, who frequently promote an image of disabled people’s powerlessness that reinforces existing prejudice against disabled people.

This medical model of disability (or ‘charity’ model or ‘administrative’ model) has led to a general acceptance that disabled people cannot fully participate in society; and therefore that where society makes ‘special’ efforts to meet the needs of disabled people, this is a kindness on the part of non-disabled society for which disabled people must be grateful. Disabled people are seen as incomplete people to be regarded as tragic objects of charity whose aim in life is ‘to overcome their handicap’ and be as much like a non-disabled person as possible.

b) The social model of disability focuses on society’s response to impairments as the root of the problem. A person has an impairment, and society, by failing to take into account the needs of such a person, disables that person. If this person cannot, for example, enter a certain building or get on a bus, it is not fundamentally their own impairment that is the problem, but rather the way in which the building and the bus have been designed – unreasonably excluding some people.

Similarly, people with intellectual impairments are disabled by segregation from the rest of society, which restricts their opportunities to learn a whole range of skills, including social skills, that are normally developed through interaction with others.

This model of disability widens the definition to include people living with long-term mental health problems, who are also socially disabled and marginalised. It also includes people with temporary impairments, such as a broken leg, who encounter many of the same obstacles as people with permanent impairments.

According to the social model of disability, notwithstanding the fact that individuals’ personal experience of their impairments may be negative and in some cases painful or hindering, society as a whole has created disability because it has failed to take into account the needs of people with impairments. It is non-disabled society that has created the barriers to full social equality for people with impairments, and it is non-disabled economists and politicians who tell us that ‘we’ cannot afford the cost of removing those barriers. Disability is a human rights issue; and human rights are not to be denied some people by the oppressive fiscal calculations of others.

The social model approach demands an integrated society. This does not just mean integrating disabled people into a non-disabled world; it means re-defining society according to the perspectives of all people, not just the non-disabled.

This understanding of disability has been growing stronger in recent years, and is the only approach acceptable to the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People.

The Disabled Principles and policies

DY300 The Green Party rejects the medical model of disability and accepts the social model:

a) that disability is a social phenomenon;

b) that while many individuals have physical or sensory impairments or learning difficulties or are living with mental health problems, it is the way society responds to these which creates disability;

c) that disability is a form of oppression.

DY301 The medical model will not be invoked with reference to ‘disability’ but will be utilised only in the assessment of impairments as part of the process of meeting an individual’s desired (or, in restricted cases, perceived) need to receive support etc. and for the purposes of defining the ‘disabling’ factors in society that are to be reconstructed.

DY302 The Green Party aims to help deconstruct disablement as a form of oppression; to assist the enablement of people whom society has previously disabled. This will be achieved through various policies which may be categorised as educational, environmental, social and political.

I would be interested to hear both positive and negative views on UK Green Party’s The Disabled policies in the comments below?