The rights model is primarily a fight for access to the privileges people would otherwise have had if they were not disabled. A focus on rights is not a struggle for fundamental social change; rather, it strives to make changes within the existing system.
The idea behind disability rights is that:
A human rights approach to disability acknowledges that people with disabilities are rights holders and that social structures and policies restricting or ignoring the rights of people with disabilities often lead to discrimination and exclusion. A human rights perspective requires society, particularly governments, to actively promote the necessary conditions for all individuals to fully realize their rights.
This is the definition of DRPI (Disability Rights Promotion International). According to this group and many other rights groups, “As full citizens with equal rights, people with disabilities are entitled to: access to education, equal rights to parenthood, rights to property ownership, access to courts-of-law, political rights such as the right to vote, equal access to employment”
However, the rights approach does not address fundamental flaws within the system that disabled people are seeking inclusion in. For example, the rights model recognizes the right of disabled people to own private property but does not question fundamental injustices attached to property ownership. Further, it does not necessarily address colonialism which has resulted in much of the property ownership in many parts of the world to be a direct result of racism and theft.
It is important to acknowledge that much of the access and privileges that disabled people have today is a direct result of the people who struggled and continue to struggle for disability rights. Many people have fought very hard for disabled people’s inclusion in society and these struggles need to be recognized and celebrated. However, we need to do more than fight for rights within society as it is structured now, we need to fight for social justice for everyone and that means restructuring society.