Building Evacuations and the Social Model of Disability

“New buildings need to consider universal design principles to ensure all people can safely and independently evacuate a building that is free of barriers, restrictions or delays.

The 1975 publication Fundamental Principles of Disability argued that the problems faced by people with disability were caused by society’s failure to take account of their needs, not by their impairments.

This view developed into the social model of disability and differs greatly from the medical model of disability. The medical model sees people with disability in need of medical intervention and to be cured or fixed. Under that model, people with disability are to be pitied, considered in need of charity and often hidden away from society.

In contrast, the social model sees the disability as the result of a person with an impairment living in a world with barriers. These barriers present themselves in many forms, including technological, physical, communication and in social attitudes. The social model purports that for full inclusion, there must be significant changes made and barriers removed so that people with disability can participate on an equal basis within society.”

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