What is this is all about
When a person lives with disability it does not completely or wholly define who they are.
Disability is a natural and ordinary part of human diversity and people with disability live full lives with interests, desires and dreams — just like anyone living without disability.
Sadly though, what it means to live with disability is often misunderstood by the general public.
But the media can play an important role in shifting the narrative.
When it comes to reporting on and to people with disability, you can make important choices that support meaningful change.
Facts and figures
- 1 in 5 South Australians has a disability — that is nearly 330,000 people.
- 4.4 million Australians live with disability nationwide.
Diversity and overlapping discrimination
People with disability are diverse and many disabilities are not visible or apparent.
- People live with a wide range of disabilities, including physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual and psychosocial.
- Some people have one disability, others live with multiple disabilities.
- Some people live with disability from birth. The prevalence of disability increases with age — in 2018 one in nine (11.6 per cent) Australians aged 0 to 64 years lived with disability while for those aged 65 years and over, it was one in two (49.6 per cent).
- People with disability represent all sectors of society, including culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, youth and LGBTIQA+. As such, they may be exposed to overlapping and interconnected forms of discrimination and marginalisation.
The stories you tell and how you tell them — including your choice of interviewees, words, images and narrative — should portray people with disability in ways that are:
- fair, accurate and authentic
- respectful of people’s human rights and dignity
- cognisant that people with disability are individuals and full members of the community
- inclusive of people with disability in general reporting of issues affecting the community as a whole
- free from myths, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.
For interviews, rather than deferring to ‘experts’, spokespeople, carers, and so on who may not themselves live with disability, you should speak directly with people with lived experience of disability when you can.