What is Disability Discrimination?

Photo Stop Discrimination Sign


In the digital world, accessibility is not merely a buzzword but a cornerstone of inclusive design. Unfortunately, several Fictions surrounding digital accessibility persist, impeding progress towards a more equitable online landscape. Let’s delve into these Fictions and explore practical solutions to address them.

Emblems of people with disability and normal peo0le.

Disability Discrimination Act 1992

The Act refers to two types of discrimination, direct and indirect. Direct is easy to see.  It is when a person with a disability is treated less favourably than a person without disability in the same situation.  Indirect disability happens when a person, business or other organisation applies rules, conditions and policies that appears to treat everyone equally however, a person with disability can’t meet the requirements due to their disability and the rules, policies and conditions are unreasonable in all circumstances. A good example is when a hearing-impaired person doesn’t have access to captions to watch the news on television.

Photo of Dominant Culture word cloud on a white background


Another word that is often heard today is ableism.  Ableism is the discrimination against people with disability in the belief that typical abilities are better.  A common behaviour that is characteristic of ableism is asking a person about their disability.  It can even be congratulating a person for disability for being out in the community. 

Gesture Hand Stop and disabled in a wheelchair looking for a job.


One common form of disability discrimination in the workplace is when qualified individuals are denied job opportunities, promotions, or reasonable accommodations due to their disability. This could include refusing to provide necessary adjustments such as flexible working hours, specialised equipment, or modified duties that would enable the person to perform their job effectively.

A very common form of disability discrimination is the refusal by transport operators to provide the service to people who use service dogs such as guide dogs and assistance dogs. This also puts the person with disability in an unsafe situation if they are not able to access other forms of transport. 

Another common form of disability discrimination that is indirect is referring all questions to a person that is accompanying the disabled person.  This is a common occurrence in the hospitality sector.

Inaccessibility is another aspect of disability discrimination. This includes physical barriers such as lack of wheelchair ramps or accessible toilets, as well as communication barriers such as not providing information in alternative formats for people with visual or hearing impairments. Failure to make reasonable adjustments to remove these barriers can prevent individuals with disabilities from fully participating in society.

A photo of the words, never AssumeHow to fix?

The simplest way to remove discrimination and ableism in all forms from society is to stop making assumptions and stop jumping to conclusions.  Have an open mind and ask questions.  Treat people with respect and accept that everyone is normal.  After all, according to The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018 data there are approximately 18% of our population with disability.    

Photo of Jack Russel dog looking through a magnifying glass.


Discrimination and ableism need to be combatted in our community.  These practices divide society and show lack of respect, understanding and support for people with disability.  Employers, educators, service providers, and the wider community must work together to create inclusive environments where everyone has equal opportunities and access to resources, regardless of their disability. This involves not only legal compliance but also fostering a culture of respect, understanding, and support for diversity in all its forms.