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Sign on wall above steps pointing to wheel chair accessible ramp.
Spaces are often designed in ways that exclude some people. Inclusion requires us to think differently about disability, so that everyone can take part in all aspects of life, including education.

Concept 1: Ableism

Our beliefs determine our actions. And our beliefs are affected by our life experiences.

If we have no lived experience of disability, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our experience is the same as everyone else’s. This is called ableism and it can result in indirect discrimination because able-bodied people can then make decisions that fail to accommodate everyone.

Ableism in design

The loneliest seat in the Australian Senate

You might think Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra would be accessible for everyone who works and visits, given that it is a modern building constructed at a cost of more than one billion dollars. However, that’s not the case, as Senator Jordon Steele-John discovered in 2017 when he was elected to the Australian Parliament. Watch this ABC news story where Senator Steele-John describes the barriers that have limited and – at various times – excluded his participation in parliamentary activities.

Wheelchair access in Parliament is a big problem for Senator Steele-John (3:52)

Alternatively you can read the news article.

Jordon Steele-John has the loneliest seat in the Senate, and it’s locking him out of the parliamentary process

Talk about it

Consider a public building you are familiar with, somewhere you go frequently. It might be a lecture theatre, your workplace, a cinema, café, store, sports complex, library or the hall where your child’s school holds their awards night. Is this building designed for everyone? What barriers exist for people with disability? Are only people with physical disability affected? Which groups, for example, might be affected by poor acoustics?

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Inclusive Education: Essential Knowledge for Success

Queensland University of Technology

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