Disability messaging guide

The Commons Social Change Library has a new guide for disability messaging. The guide has tips based on research which shows effective ways of building public support. The document was led by a steering committee of people with disability and messaging experts.

The guide is supported by Disability Action Network Australia (DANA), Centre for Australian Progress and Common Cause Australia. Access via The Commons Social Change Library or download in PDF.

Website banner for the disability messaging guide. Dark blue background with white text surrounded by a narrow yellow border.

Key content

The guide begins with a note about language and why they prefer the term “disabled people”. The introduction covers the messaging principles such as the audience and speaking from the frame of experience. The overarching themes for talking about disability are self-determination and diversity. This is followed by the 7 top tips.

  1. Story structure
  2. Design Frame
  3. Strengths language
  4. Our story, not theirs
  5. Bring NDIS back to values and benefits
  6. Build empathy with human stories
  7. Show change is possible
People on a fun run with two older adults being pushed in wheelchairs.

The guide has good examples to explain concepts and how to change old messages into ones that are more attuned to self determination. One example is to talk about being “led by disabled people” rather than “a seat at the table”. The reasoning is to replace inclusion and tokenism with self determination.

Another example is making passive sentences active. Rather than talk about how disabled people experience discrimination, say who is discriminating. And people like to be presented with solutions rather than problems so focus on these. 

The title is By Us, For Us: Disability Messaging Guide.

Accessibility Toolbar