Skip to main content


Key definitions, strategy and legislation underpinning our plan

The Disability Action Plan forms part of our ongoing commitment to make education and career goals achievable for every staff member and student.

How we do this is defined by legal and strategic frameworks that ensure we are giving all members of our community a fair go.

Defining disability

Complex social and medical dimensions come into play when defining disability.

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), explains disability as “an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions,” as well as “the interaction between individuals with a health condition and personal environmental factors”.

When we approach disability as an interaction rather than an attribute of a person, the focus shifts to how environmental factors can be changed to improve social participation.

Environmental factors may include negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and facilities, and limited social support.

We recognise disability is part of the human experience – not a condition or impairment isolated to a minority group. Anyone can experience a decline in health, and therefore experience some degree of disability, at any stage in life.

How we understand disability has evolved over time, with the most significant change being the acknowledgement that people living with disabilities are usually far more limited by social, cultural and economic constraints than by a specific physical, psychological or intellectual impairment.

Disability is considered to be any condition that impacts a person’s mental, sensory or mobility functions. It may be caused by accident, trauma, genetics or disease. It may be temporary or permanent; visible or invisible; lifelong or acquired.

Legal and strategic framework

We are committed to providing accessible education to people with disabilities. This is reflected in initiative 4b of the University’s strategic plan, which states our intention to “support universal access by investing in implementation of the Disability Action Plan, including the allocation of disability officers and ongoing training for staff.”

The Disability Action Plan has been developed within the boundaries of relevant legislation and guidelines.

Disability Action Plan 2013-18

Download PDF

How we define disability

The Disability Discrimination Act (1992) defines physical, intellectual, sensory and other kinds of disability.