Disability A–Z

Filter by: All A-D E-H I-L M-P Q-T U-X Y-Z

Advocacy – Individual

Individual advocacy

Individual advocacy is when a professional advocate, relative, friend or volunteer advocates for a single person, to stop or fix instances of unfair treatment or abuse.

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Advocacy – Self-advocacy


Self-advocacy is when someone with disability speaks up and represents themselves. Community-based groups can offer support and training for self-advocacy.

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Advocacy – Systemic

Systemic advocacy

Systemic advocacy is when groups or individuals are working for long-term social change to make sure legislation, policies and practices support the rights and interests of all people with disability.

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Assistive technology

Assistive technology is any device, system or design you can use to do things that otherwise you couldn’t do. Examples of assistive technology include audio books, hearing aids, automatic door openers, ramps, speech-to-text software, scooters and wheelchairs.


Auslan (Australian sign language) is the sign language of the Australian Deaf community. Auslan’s grammar and vocabulary is quite different to English. Auslan, and other sign languages, use hands, in various handshapes; facial expression; body language and other visual cues to communicate. Auslan is a recognised community language of Australia.

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Autism spectrum disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is thought to be a neurological disorder but is diagnosed through behaviour.
ASD can be diagnosed when a person has disordered social communication and interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviours. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, cognitive impairment, abnormal sensitivity, hyperactivity and anxiety. Symptoms of ASD appear in early childhood and vary across a wide spectrum. ASD is often severe and lifelong.

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Blindness is a loss of vision that can’t be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Partial blindness or vision impairment means you have very limited vision (30 per cent or less according to the World Health Organisation). Complete blindness means you can’t see anything and do not see light. People who are blind or vision impaired may use assistive technology, such as a white cane or dog guide, to get around safely and independently and do everyday tasks.

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Brain injury

Brain injury refers to any injury to the brain. The effects of a brain injury are different for each person but can cause one, or a combination, of physical, cognitive and behavioural disability.

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Captioning is when audio content of a television show, webcast, film, video, live event, or other production, is converted into text that is displayed on a screen or monitor. Captions can be ‘open’ or ‘closed’. Open captions are always visible and can’t be turned off. Closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.

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Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or another drug issue, or who are frail due to their age.

For more information visit: Carers Australia


Deaf (with capital ‘D’) is used to describe those people who use Auslan to communicate, and identify themselves as members of the signing Deaf community. These people may also identify themselves as ‘Culturally Deaf’ as they are more likely to have been born deaf, or became deaf early in life, are pre-lingually deaf (became deaf before they learned to speak) and use sign language as their main or preferred way to communicate.

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deaf (with a lowercase ‘d’) is a general term used to describe people who have a physical condition of hearing loss of varying degrees, no matter which communication mode they use, such as Auslan and lip reading.

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Deafblind is a term that is used when a person has both vision loss and hearing loss. Dual sensory loss or dual sensory impairment are other terms that are used to describe deafblindness.

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines disability as any limitation, restriction or impairment that restricts everyday activities and has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months. There are a number of ‘models’ of disability which have been defined over the last few years. The two most often mentioned are the ‘social’ and the ‘medical’ models of disability.

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Disability Discrimination Act

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) was an act passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1992. It makes discrimination against people with disabilities − in employment, education, publicly available premises, provision of goods and services, accommodation, clubs and associations, and other contexts − illegal. This discrimination includes not making reasonable adjustments for the person.

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Disability Support Pension

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) provides financial support if you have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that stops you from working, or if you are permanently blind.

For more information visit: Blind Citizens Australia and Human Services

Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPO)

Disabled Peoples Organisations or DPOs are representative organisations where people with disability make up a majority of the overall staff, board, and volunteers in all levels of the organisation.

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Discrimination is treating, or suggesting to treat, someone negatively because of a personal characteristic protected by the law. This includes bullying someone because of a protected characteristic. These personal characteristics are things like age, race, disability, physical features and political beliefs.

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Down syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic condition. It is not an illness or a disease. People with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes in their cells instead of 46. They have an extra chromosome 21, which is why Down syndrome is also sometimes known as trisomy 21.

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