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The Government Center: Disability History

Understanding the Moral Model

The moral model stated that people with disabilities are embarrassing and pitiful; we should feel sorry for them!

  • Up until the mid 1800s, most people thought about disabilities and about the people who had disabilities using the moral model.
  • The moral model said that people with disabilities were bad people, and that anyone with disabilities had probably done something wrong at some time.
  • The moral model said that having a disability was a punishment from God.
  • The moral model made parents embarrassed to have a son or daughter with disabilities, so many persons with disabilities were hidden away.
  • Sometimes under the moral model the public “felt sorry” for people with disabilities, and offered them some support and assistance as charity cases. With the moral model, people with disabilities did not have a right to anything, so they always needed to be very thankful.

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Last updated on December 5, 2018

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