Term Definition, applied to students with disability
Accessible Available. Education is available to everyone, including people with disability. When necessary, supports are provided and barriers are removed. For example, ramps replace stairs, or words that are easy to understand replace complex terms.
Adaptive technology A device that enables participation by changing content or user responses from one form to another. For example, a computer converts text-to-speech, or changes a person’s speech into onscreen text.
Adjustment A change to the usual way of doing things that enables a student with disability to participate on the same basis as other students. An adjustment is reasonable if it balances the interests of everyone affected.

Advocacy for people with disability can be defined as speaking, acting, writing with minimal conflict of interest on behalf of a disadvantaged person or groupin order to promote, protect and defend the welfare of and justice for the person or group by:

  • being on their side and no one else's
  • being primarily concerned with their fundamental needs
  • remaining loyal and accountable to them in a way which is empathic and vigorous (whilst respecting the rights of others); and
  • ensuring duty of care at all times.
Advocate Someone who provides advocacy for a person or persons with disability. (Adapted from National Disability Advocacy Program.)
Affirmative action Active support for a group (such as students with disability) to compensate for their previous lack of opportunity.
Assessment Test. Any task or activity designed to find out what a student has learnt or is able to do.
Assistive technology A tool to help a person with disability. Any device or system used by a person with disability to do something they are otherwise unable to do.

Someone, such as a family member, who is closely connected with a person with disability. 'Associate' includes:

  1. A spouse of the person
  2. Another person who is living with the person on a genuine domestic basis
  3. A relative of the person
  4. A carer of the person
  5. Another person who is in a business, sporting or recreational relationship with the person.
Curriculum What schools teach, including instructional content, materials and resources.
Direct discrimination A person is treated unfavourably because they have an attribute (such as age or disability) covered by law or are associated with someone with this attribute.
Disability People are covered by disability laws if they have physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological and learning conditions, or if their body has disease-causing organisms. People may have these conditions now, or in the future, or have had them in the past.
Disability discrimination Someone is treated unfairly because they have a disability or are associated with someone with disability.
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 An Act passed by the Parliament of Australia to protect people against discrimination based on disability. Often called the DDA, it promotes the rights of people with disability in certain areas such as employment, housing, education, and provision of goods and services. Link to the DDA.
Disability Standards for Education 2005

A framework to clarify the obligations of education and training providers and ensure that students with disability are able to access and participate in education on the same basis as other students. The Disability Standards for Education were developed under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and have five parts:

  • Enrolment
  • Participation
  • Curriculum development, accreditation and delivery
  • Student services
  • Harassment and victimisation.


Disability Standards for Education 2005

Disability Standards for Education explanatory statement

Disability Standards for Education guidance notes


Discrimination Someone is treated less favourably than another person in similar circumstances because they have, or their associate has, an attribute (such as age or disability) covered by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 or other laws. Discrimination can be direct or indirect.
Education provider

Any organisation that educates or trains people. For example:

  • Pre-schools and kindergartens (but not childcare centres)
  • Public and private schools
  • Public education and training places, such as TAFE institutes
  • Private education and training places, such as private business colleges
  • Universities
  • Organisations that prepare or accredit training and education programs.
Education staff Anyone working for an education provider, including early childhood specialists, teachers, principals, teacher aides, and administrators.
Harassment The act of upsetting someone because they have a disability. Any action that is reasonably likely to result in a student with disability, or with an associate with disability, being humiliated, offended, intimidated or distressed about their disability. This is against the law.
Imputed disability A disability which the person is believed to have, although there is no formal diagnosis.
Inclusive education Every student, with or without disability, is welcome and able to participate fully in all aspects of education.
Indirect discrimination Everyone is treated in exactly the same way, even though this unreasonably disadvantages someone because they, or their associate, have a disability or other attribute covered by law.
Legal rights What the law says people can expect to have. The Disability Standards for Education outline the rights of students with disability – that is, what they can expect from education providers. Students with disability have the right to opportunities to participate in education on the same basis as students without disability.
On the same basis Students with disability are treated fairly. Students with disability are provided with opportunities and choices that are comparable to those available to students without disability.
Participation Full involvement in school activities. Active engagement with, and contribution to, all the life and activities of the school.
Personalised approach to learning and support An approach that takes into account all of the student’s individual needs and all of the adjustments they need to access and participate in their education. For example, this planning might include what and where students learn, as well as their communication, mobility, behaviour and health care.
Reasonable adjustment A change to the usual way of doing things that enables a student with disability to participate on the same basis as other students. An adjustment is reasonable if balances the interests of everyone affected.
Specialised equipment Equipment which supports the participation of students with disability. For example, text-to-speech software, speech-generating devices, and devices for physical activities.
Specialised services Professional services which support the participation of students with disability. For example, speech pathology, psychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social work.
Support staff Staff who work to support the participation of people with disability. For example, specialist teachers, educational consultants, interpreters, note-takers, and education assistants (teacher aides, teacher assistants, school learning support personnel).
Universal Design for Learning An approach that considers the needs of all learners from the beginning. This results in flexible teaching that enables everyone to access education. For example, if a school ensures all the videos in its libraries have subtitles, this can assist all students, including those with hearing impairment.
Victimisation The act of treating someone unfairly because they complain about being discriminated against. The student or their associate is treated less favourably because they have asserted their legal rights, or complained or intend to complain, about their treatment due to disability.