Medical & Social Model: Language Quiz

Take this short quiz to test your awareness of disability related language. Please place an “M” for medical model before those terms you believe are reflective of the model and a “S” for social model before those terms you believe are reflective of the model.

S invalid
S disfigured
S handicapped
M The disabled
M person with a disability
M disabled people
S special people
S wheelchair bound
M wheelchair user
M stroke patient
S polio victim
S crippled
M imbecile
S integration
S vulnerable adult
M idiot
M normal person
M spastic
M deaf and dumb
S confined to a wheelchair
M person without a disability
S physically challenged
M humpback
M non-disabled
S special needs
S She is cerebral palsied
S retarded
M inclusion worker
M crazy
S has an emotional disability
M birth defect
M a psychiatric disability
S has fits
M midget
S Wheelchair bound
M disabled person
M respite care
S able-bodied person
M afflicted
M deformed
S maimed
S people of short stature
M moron
M a person who has seizures
M special needs assistant
M He has cerebral palsy
S disability community
S deaf mute
S a person who is deaf
S feebleminded
S person with a speech impairment
S inclusion
S special bus
S super-crip
S burden

Social model led disabled activists argue that ‘disabled-embodiment’ is produced and experienced within an ‘ableist’ and non-disabled context that mobilises the charitable & medical model gaze to focus on the impaired bodies at the expense of the recognition of disabled identity.

“In order to deconstruct ableism and to recognise the value of the disabled identity, a politics of medical model narrative recognition is required”. Discuss with three columns = POSITIVE / NEGATIVE / INTERESTING

Opinion on the Quiz

The given quiz clearly shows that the awareness of ordinary people of disability related language is relatively low. In spite of the clear understanding of the meanings of the words, it was challenging to decide if it was a social or a medical term. For example, the quiz contains several words that denote mental retardation: idiot, moron, and feebleminded. The problem with this set of notions is that people often call someone an idiot or a moron in a fit of anger to offend and humiliate. Simultaneously, it is not such a common fact that idiotism refers to an incurable disease of the brain. For psychiatrists, a moron is a person with a mild intellectual disability. Since these words “migrated” from the medical terminology to ordinary life a long time ago, not that many people know that these words denote medical conditions.

Apart from the previously described set of words, there were doubts about other pairs with the same meaning. More precisely, it is entirely unclear if the phrases “She is cerebral palsied” and “He has cerebral palsy” both reflect either medical or social models or belong to different models. From one point of view, “cerebral palsy” is a medical term, while “cerebral palsied” sounds similar but is unlikely to be written in the medical records. From another point of view, the reasoning above might be erroneous.

To conclude, it should be noted that the disability related language is very specific and differs from the terminology used on a daily basis by people who do not investigate the issue of ableism. It seems that if the quiz were taken by a wide range of people, it would show the necessity to raise the awareness of disability related language. Anyway, it is rather curious and shows that there are many things to be learned about.