Wiser words – article 1

Why is disability an issue? Poverty, access and inclusion

 The first wiser words article is here! It’s a blog to grab you today, but is copied in the wiser words section too. Please comment or question me further!

When I am training many do not see why there are issues for disabled people. When I explain why, they then ask why others are not doing more. Here I want to explain this exact aspect for anyone else who just hasn’t had the bigger picture explained to them.

http://martynsibley.com/wiser-words for more…


  1. Great article Martyn. As a non-disabled person I sometimes am not always conscious of the difficulties my disabled friends and colleagues have, social and other. This is a poignant reminder as to what we should all be working towards.

  2. hi Martyn, love your site, great writing and some really important issues addressed and explained. I want to ask your view on something – I understand and agree with the social model of disability, but feel that it shouldn’t be to the exclusion of the ‘medical model’. There are many people who are disabled by illness and who cannot be helped simply by removal of social barriers. I, for example, have M.E. If you saw me out on a rare good day you probably would not know I was ill. However, 90% of the time I am housebound. This isn’t really because of social barriers, it is mainly because of exhaustion and severe pain (amongst other symptoms) – these are my barriers. I am disabled according to the definition ” an impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities.” I am disabled by my symptoms. I could not get a job because my illness means that I do not have the sustained energy that is needed to function properly. I have to sleep every afternoon otherwise I simply cannot get through the rest of the day. I am in constant pain which in itself is hugely debilitating. So, I suppose I’m asking you how does my kind of disability fit in unless we include some kind of medical model in the campaigning and in the ongoing perception of disability? I think there are many, many versions of disability, each with it’s own set of particular issues and needs. It’s important to include them all somehow. I’ll be very interested to hear what you think about this…. : )

    1. Hi Fiona

      Thanks for your kind words and taking the time to comment here. I have learnt it is difficult to talk about disability and cover all impairments and theoretical stances. However I try to and appreciate good debate. Did you read my aunty’s guest blog http://martynsibley.com/guest-blog-m-e-and-me-by-diane-sibley? She is only 8 years older than myself so I am close to her and understand the restrictions ME has.

      In answer to your question generally, I still stand by the social model. The medical model would seek to ‘cure’ you and society see the problem lying with you. The social model still takes into account your impairment/limitations and then how you are able to be included, how people perceive you is down to changing societies attitude. So if you are housebound and need daytime sleep, employers could still employ you to work x hours per day and friends come to you to socialise. I do not have pain or chronic fatigue, but my stance is while life would be easier not disabled, it makes me who I am, I make the most of life and others should negatively impinge on that through lack of understanding.

      I know the social model is idealistic, but thats the point. In the perfect world people have impairments, but society understands how to remove any unnecessary barriers and you can maximise life within your limitations.

      Hope that offers an answer. I can sit here and already pick holes in this, but this is my view from my very personal experiences I guess.

      If you would ever like to guest blog and raise the voice of someone with your experiences to campaign and change attitudes, I’d love to publish that?

      Best wishes.

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