1 December 2021

By Janice Atkin,
Professional Learning Officer

This Friday 3 December is International Day of People with Disability – a great chance to start a conversation in your classroom.

Mainstreaming disability

We need to change the way we think about people with disabilities. One in five people – so, 20% of the population in Australia – have a disability. Yet, we don’t talk about it nearly enough in general, but certainly in our schools.

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is held on 3 December each year and aims at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. This is a great opportunity to initiate conversations with your classes.

Words of a champion

 Dylan Alcott, Paralympian, tennis player and disability advocate:

“There is a stigma about disability that we are broken, less capable, undateable, can’t get a job, can’t have sex, all that kind of stuff and it’s those expectations and limitations that make it hard for people with disability.

“When I was getting bullied about my disability, if I could have turned on the radio and heard someone like me, or someone like Nas [Campanella] or put on the TV and see someone in a wheelchair – if I had of seen that, it would have changed my life instantly.”

Portrayal is important

Within our society we need to change the way people with disabilities are portrayed.

As Dylan observes: “In TV commercials where they’re trying to get people to stop speeding, what do they show? They show a guy in a wheelchair crying because he’s disabled. And that’s the reason they think their life is over.

“But if you tell people that that’s what life is in a wheelchair, they’ll believe it. I’m just trying to show you that you can still live this awesome life. And I think it’s better, you get free tickets to places, you get free parking!”

Start a conversation

On IDPWD, start a conversation with your class to change the way they think about people with disability.

Here’s a TED Talk that Dylan presented on mainstreaming disability

International Day of People with Disability resources

Head to the IDPWD website for school resources and ideas.

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