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Disability and Australian higher education: The case for an Accessible model of disability support

This article explores a century and a half of supporting students with disabilities in Australian higher education, spanning the introduction of mass public education legislation in 1872 through to 2022. The article documents the transition from a paradigm in which disability was not integral to universal public instruction to systemic approaches to provision of reasonable adjustments. This transition has opened opportunities for persons with disabilities in some regards yet impedes full inclusion in others. Theoretically, we draw upon multiple paradigms of disability to explore how disability support has evolved in the Australian higher education sector, including ‘charitable’, ‘inspiration porn’, ‘medical’, ‘social’, ‘prosthetic’ and ‘ecological’ models. We offer qualitative and quantitative examples across time to illustrate these evolving paradigms. We then explore an alternative model of disability, which we define as an ‘Accessible’ model of disability support. (Authors: Tim Pitman, Curtin University, and Matt Brett, Matt Brett, Deakin University)

(September 2022)