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Let's talk about disability

For a long time, people with disability did not have the same rights and freedoms as people without disability. It was believed that people with disability needed to be ‘cared for’ and they weren’t allowed to make decisions about their own lives.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that things really started to change through the disability rights movement. Most people thought about disability in terms of what doctors said our minds and bodies could or couldn’t do. Then, as the disability rights movement grew stronger, people started to understand that disability is actually about how our society makes it hard for some people to participate.

Think about the way our society works. It’s built for people whose bodies and minds work in a particular way, and that may make it difficult for some people whose bodies and minds work in a different way.

What is disability?

The word disability is a broad term covering a whole range of experiences. Sometimes people have difficulty seeing, learning, walking, thinking, or hearing, or they may face challenges that other people don’t. This is referred to as having a disability.

Sometimes, people with disability may need support. This could include hearing aids for a person who is hard of hearing, or a support teacher to work with a student who has dyslexia.

Is it common to have a disability?

You might not realise just how many people have a disability, because you can’t always see someone’s disability. One in five Australians identify as having a disability.

What can you do?

Make sure you don’t assume that someone needs help because they have a disability. Sometimes, a person might not need or want help from anyone else. You should always ask them first.

It is important to always try to be as inclusive as you can be.

There are many ways we can make our world more inclusive so everyone can join in on the fun, like having captions on TV and movies or giving your classmate with Autism Spectrum Disorder space and quiet when they need it. Using respectful language is very important too.

People with disability have the same rights and freedoms as everyone. As human beings, we should all be respected and treated fairly.

Being inclusive helps everyone, including people with disability, have the same access to opportunities so they can reach their full potential and shine.

Sometimes to do this, we need to make some changes in the way we work, the way our homes and other buildings are built, the way we learn and even the way we watch movies. But it’s worth it because it makes our world better for everyone.

Learn more

You can learn more about all the ways we are different from one another, as well as the many things we have in common by watching:

· Let’s talk about equality and equity

· Let’s talk about education

· Let’s talk about bodies, identity and sexuality

· Let’s talk about racism

· Let’s talk about refugees

You can also learn more about disability discrimination and the Commission’s other projects in this area here.