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Disability, Access, Inclusion and Participation 

This document provides guidelines for promoting access, inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in TASA events, communications, administration and governance. All members with an official role in carrying out the functions and tasks associated with TASA should refer to these guidelines. Where appropriate the guidelines will be incorporated into TASA’s Memorandums of Understanding (e.g. conference, public lecture, thematic groups).



Definition: Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others

Source: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 1

Language: One aim of these guidelines is to promote an awareness of disability issues through recommendations about use of language. This should avoid the perpetuation of assumptions about disabled people and ensure the writing of sociologists does not cause offence. The adoption of these guidelines should help to challenge ‘disablism’ in sociological education and research, promote a social, political and cultural rather than individual model of disability, and support non-discriminatory practice.

Language and terminology change through time and may be challenged. The use of particular words can reinforce beliefs and prejudices, but can also be used to challenge these. As such, it must be recognised that the meaning of these terms will be subject to revision and/or change at a faster rate than these or any other guidelines or sources may be issued.

TASA recommends using the following non-disablist terms when referring to people with a disability.

DISABLIST (avoid) NON-DISABLIST (preferred)
Handicap Disability
Invalid Disabled person or person with disability
The disabled /The handicapped Disabled people or people with disabilities
Special needs Support needs or assistance
Patient Person
Abnormal Different or disabled
Victim of Person who has / person with
Crippled by Person who has / person with
Suffering from Person who has / person with
Afflicted by Person who has / person with
Wheelchair bound Wheelchair user
The blind Blind, vision impaired people or people with low vision
The deaf Deaf or hard of hearing people
Cripple or crippled Disabled or mobility impaired person
The mentally handicapped People / person with an intellectual disability; people / person with cognitive disability / impairment
Retarded / backward People / person with an intellectual disability; people / person with cognitive disability / impairment
Mute or dumb Person with communication impairment
Mentally ill or mental patient Mental health service user / mental health service consumer
Able bodied person Non-disabled person

Source: Adapted and amended to the Australian context from the British Sociological Association ~ Equality & Diversity ~ Disability [April 2004]

The Creating Accessible Events checklist is available in Word (834kb)

Kate Huppatz (L) and Steve Matthewman (R) congratulating Michelle Peterie on being the 2018 JoS Best Paper Award winner for Docility and Desert: government discourses of compassion in Australia’s asylum seeker debate

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