Institutional capacities and collaboration with communities of disability service centres in Thailand from the perspective of ‘social model of disability’

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Akiko Yokoyama


The ‘Social Model of Disability’ first appeared in the United Kingdom and the United States of America and became popularamong persons with disabilities involved in the independent living movement worldwide. However, some critics argue that the ‘Social Model of Disability’ does not affect the actual lives of persons with disabilities, especially in developing countries where people have limited access to health, education, social welfare and other public services. This research aims to identify disabilities prevalent in developing countries. Thailand was selected as the target area of study as it recently introduced a country-wide administrative system called ‘Disability Service Centre’ to support persons with disabilities. The research methodology includes literature reviews and field interviews. Field interviews mainly focused on the opinions of persons with disabilities. This study consisted of three frameworks: 1) disabilities in regulations and institutions; 2) disabilities in people’s biases and attitudes in a community; and 3) disabilities of persons with disabilities or disabled people’s organisations. The major deficiencies found in regulations and institutions were budget, functions, organisational capacities and relationships among organisations. People’s biases and attitudes in the examined community included non-cooperation from families and neighbours, lack of understanding at the office and competition in the market. Persons with disabilities or supporting organisations lack of financial resources and administrative capacities. In conclusion, disabilities in society can be eased not only by the establishment of a system or service but also through advocacy and empowerment of disabled people’s organisations. The ‘Social Model of Disability’ can be applied to Thai society when combined with a rights-based approach. Regarding implications of the study, the creation of workspaces offers good opportunities for persons with disabilities and non-disabled persons to communicate with each other and understand the rights of persons with disabilities. Capacity development of DPOs is crucial for their participation in society and advocacy of the rights of persons with disabilities. However, this study was limited by the short period for which the sub-district disability service centres had operated in Thailand. Further studies will be required to examine social disabilities on a long-term basis.

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Yokoyama, A. (2021). Institutional capacities and collaboration with communities of disability service centres in Thailand from the perspective of ‘social model of disability’. Interdisciplinary Research Review, 16(4), 24–32. Retrieved from
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