Under the medical model, disabled people are defined by their illness or medical condition. They are disempowered: medical diagnoses are used to regulate and control access to social benefits, housing, education, leisure and employment.
The medical model promotes the view of a disabled person as dependent and needing to be cured or cared for, and it justifies the way in which disabled people have been systematically excluded from society. The disabled person is the problem, not society. Control resides firmly with professionals; choices for the individual are limited to the options provided and approved by the 'helping' expert.
The medical model is sometimes known as the ‘individual model’ because it promotes the notion that it is the individual disabled person who must adapt to the way in which society is constructed and organised.
The medical model is vigorously rejected by organisations of disabled people, but it still pervades many attitudes towards disabled people.