Students with disability

‘Disability is a natural part of the human experience’ (ADCET)

What is disability? Who are students with disability at Deakin?

There are a range of ways that disability is understood.

In recent years, the understanding of disability has moved away from a physical or medical perspective to one that takes into account a person’s physical, social and political context. Today, disability is understood to arise from the interaction between a person’s health condition or impairment and the multitude of influencing factors in their environment.

Deakin’s Diversity and inclusion policy and procedures, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the related Disability Standards for Education 2005, require us to anticipate and plan for students with disability, provide reasonable adjustments where needed, and not put them at a disadvantage due to their disability, health or mental health condition.

The definition of disability covered by the Disability Discrimination Act is very broad and can include people who have a personal connection with a person with a disability like relatives, friends, carers and co-workers if they are discriminated against because of that connection or relationship. A disability or barrier can be experienced as a result of a wide range of impairments or conditions, and can be long term or temporary. Many more people have an invisible disability than a visible one, and while the definition is broad, not all people who fall into the definition choose to identify as having a disability.

There has been a substantial growth in enrolment of students with disability at Deakin and across the sector since 2012. At Deakin we know that around 9% of students choose to share or disclose that they have a disability (from numbers registered with the DRC and those who indicate disability status on enrolment). The Australian Bureau of Statistics find that around 20% of Australians have a disability, and further to that, around 1 in 4 students will experience a mental health condition in any one year. So while there has been a growth in numbers, we can deduce that there are many students who choose not to formally share information about their situation.

Inclusive education allows us the best opportunity to include students with disability and decrease the individual adjustments we may need to provide.

Reducing barriers for students with disability

Inclusive teaching and learning practices enhance the learning of all students, minimise the need for individualised responses, and are therefore both cost- and time-effective. Those listed below will be of particular value for some students with disability.

When inclusive practices are not able to reduce all the barriers a student with disability may encounter, adjustments can be


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