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Terms used across the portal
Term Definition

Available: education is available to everyone, including people with disability. When necessary, supports are provided and barriers are removed. For example, ramps replace stairs, or words that are easy to understand replace complex terms.

Adaptive technology

A device that enables participation by changing content or user responses from one form to another. For example, a computer converts text-to-speech, or changes a person’s speech into onscreen text.


Adjustments are actions taken to enable a student with disability to access and participate in education on the same basis as other students.


Advocacy for people with disability can be defined as speaking, acting or writing with minimal conflict of interest on behalf of a disadvantaged person or group in order to promote, protect and defend the welfare of and justice for the person or group by:

  • being on their side and no one else's
  • being primarily concerned with their fundamental needs
  • remaining loyal and accountable to them in a way which is empathic and vigorous (whilst respecting the rights of others)
  • ensuring duty of care at all times.

Someone who provides advocacy for a person or persons with disability (adapted from National Disability Advocacy Program).

Affirmative action

Active support for a group (such as students with disability) to compensate for their previous lack of opportunity.


A test or any task or activity designed to find out what a student has learnt or is able to do.

Assistive technology

A tool to help a person with disability. Any device or system used by a person with disability to do something they are otherwise unable to do.


For most students, 'associates' means their parents, guardians or carers but can include other nominated persons or advocates.

'Associate' includes:

  • a relative of the person
  • a carer of the person
  • a spouse of the person
  • another person who is living with the person on a genuine domestic basis
  • another person who is in a business, sporting or recreational relationship with the person.

What schools teach, including instructional content, materials and resources.


Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Direct discrimination

When a person is treated unfavourably because they have an attribute (such as age or disability) covered by law or are associated with someone with this attribute.


Disability is defined in section 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 as:

  • total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions; or
  • total or partial loss of a part of the body; or
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body; or
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour;

and includes a disability that:

  • presently exists; or
  • previously existed but no longer exists; or
  • may exist in the future (including because of a genetic predisposition to that disability); or
  • is imputed to a person.

To avoid doubt, a disability that is otherwise covered by this definition includes behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of the disability.

Source: Section 4 Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Disability discrimination

When someone is treated unfairly because they have a disability or are associated with someone with disability.

Disability Discrimination Act 1992

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) makes it against the law to treat people unfairly because of a disability.

Disability Standards for Education 2005

A framework to clarify the obligations of education and training providers and ensure that students with disability are able to access and participate in education on the same basis as other students. The Disability Standards for Education were developed under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and have five parts:

  • enrolment
  • participation
  • curriculum development, accreditation and delivery
  • student services
  • harassment and victimisation.

Disability Standards for Education 2005

Disability Standards for Education explanatory statement

Disability Standards for Education guidance notes


When someone is treated less favourably than another person in similar circumstances because they have, or their associate has, an attribute (such as age or disability) covered by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 or other laws. Discrimination can be direct or indirect.

Education staff

Anyone working for an education provider, including early childhood specialists, teachers, principals, teacher aides and administrators.

Functional impact

The functional impact of a student’s disability in relation to education includes the impact on curriculum access and participation, communication, mobility, personal care and social participation. Other areas that might be considered for some students are safety, motor development, emotional wellbeing, sensory needs and transitions.

Functional needs

Functional needs refers to a student’s educational and support needs across a range of domains which may include, but are not limited to:

  • key learning areas: changes required in curriculum and teaching practices to enable a student to achieve the learning outcomes described in syllabus documents
  • communication: a student’s ability to receive and understand information being conveyed by others (receptive language) and a student’s ability to convey a message to others (expressive language)
  • participation: a student’s ability to engage in successful interactions and participate effectively in the full school program (social competence) and the management strategies required to ensure a student’s safety (safety and wellbeing)
  • personal care: essential hygiene routines that require intensive individual management to support participation (hygiene), eating/drinking/dietary needs which require individual management (eating and dietary), and the procedures specified in an individual health care plan that require specialised support (health care procedures)
  • movement: a student’s level of functional independence in mobility and positioning (mobility and positioning) and a student’s ability to use the hand motor skills required to participate in learning activities (hand motor skills).

The act of upsetting someone because they have a disability. Any action that is reasonably likely to result in a student with disability, or who has an associate with disability, being humiliated, offended, intimidated or distressed about the disability. This is against the law.

Imputed disability

An ‘imputed’ disability is something that someone believes another person has. To impute a disability, the school team must have reasonable grounds to make such a judgement.

Inclusive education

Every student, with or without disability, is welcome and able to participate fully in all aspects of education.

Indirect discrimination

When everyone is treated in exactly the same way, even though this unreasonably disadvantages someone because they, or their associate, have a disability or other attribute covered by law.

Learning differences

The term learning differences refers to the diverse ways all students learn and the rates at which they learn. Learning differences take account of individual learning motivators, learner aspirations, interests, experience and cultural background, individual students’ strengths and individual students’ needs.

Learning difficulties

The term learning difficulties refers to factors outside of learning differences or disabilities that might affect a student’s ability to achieve at the same rate as their peers. Factors such as absenteeism, ineffective instruction, inadequate exposure to necessary curriculums, English as an additional language, socioeconomic status and personal or family trauma may affect a student’s ability to effectively engage with learning activities and meet academic expectations. These factors may lead to difficulties for the student in meeting the expected learning targets for their age and/or years of schooling.

Students are not included in the NCCD if they have learning difficulties as defined above that are not directly attributed to a disability as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Disability Standards for Education 2005.

Learning disabilities

Learning disabilities are defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Disability Standards for Education 2005 as 'a disorder or malfunction that results in a person learning differently from a person without a disorder or malfunction'. Students with learning disability are a specific group of students who are considered to have learning difficulties but do not respond to appropriate intervention.

Students with learning disability as defined above, who require adjustment to address their disability may be included in the NCCD if they meet eligibility requirements described in the NCCD model.

Legal rights

What the law says people can expect to have. The Disability Standards for Education outline the rights of students with disability – that is, what they can expect from education providers. Students with disability have the right to opportunities to participate in education on the same basis as students without disability.

Levels of adjustment

Support provided within quality differentiated teaching practice

Students with disability are supported through active monitoring and adjustments that are not greater than those used to meet the needs of diverse learners. These adjustments are provided through usual school processes, without drawing on additional resources, and by meeting proficient-level Teaching Standards (AITSL).

Supplementary adjustments

Students with disability are provided with adjustments that are supplementary to the strategies and resources already available for all students within the school.

Substantial adjustments

Students with disability who have more substantial support needs are provided with essential adjustments and considerable adult assistance.

Extensive adjustment

Students with disability and very high support needs are provided with extensive targeted measures and sustained levels of intensive support. These adjustments are highly individualised, comprehensive and ongoing.


As it relates to the NCCD, moderation allows individuals within a school to collaborate, validate and learn from one another to regulate the assessment and data collection process. It is a key treatment in reducing variability in teacher professional judgement.


The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) is an annual collection of information about Australian school students with disability.

NCCD category of disability

The NCCD broad categories of disability are: physical, cognitive, sensory and social/emotional. The categories are used for the purposes of counting students in the NCCD.

NCCD model

The NCCD model describes how to undertake the NCCD. The model provides a systematic process that enables schools across Australia to count, in a consistent manner, the number of students with disability receiving adjustments to access education. The model was endorsed by education ministers on 10 May 2013.

On the same basis

'On the same basis' means that a student with disability must have opportunities and choices comparable with those offered to students without disability in relation to:

  • admission or enrolment in an institution
  • participation in courses or programs
  • use of facilities and services.
Overseas student

'Overseas student' has the same meaning as in the Australian Education Act 2013 and the Australian Education Regulation 2013, as amended.


Full involvement in school activities. Active engagement with, and contribution to, all the life and activities of the school.

Personal information

Personal information is information or an opinion, whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable.

Personalised learning and support

Personalised learning and support aims to fulfil the diverse capabilities of each student. It requires attention to the unique needs of students of all abilities, acknowledging the different learning needs of each student. This is particularly relevant for students with disability and additional learning needs.

There are four elements in personalised learning and support:

  • consultation and collaboration with a student and/or their parent or carer
  • assessing and identifying the needs of a student
  • providing reasonable adjustments to address the identified needs of a student
  • monitoring and reviewing the impact of adjustments.

Personalised learning and support may involve one or a combination of approaches in relation to curriculum, instruction and the environment.

Professional support roles

Professional support roles include medical practitioners and allied health professionals whose diagnoses of disability, or other assessment information about a student’s disability, may form part of the evidence identified for the NCCD, subject to parental permission.

Reasonable adjustment

An adjustment is an action taken to enable a student with disability to access and participate in education on the same basis as other students.

Australian legislation requires reasonable adjustments to be made for students where necessary to allow their access and participation in education on the same basis as students without disability. These adjustments are made in consultation with the student and/or their associates. Any adjustment required must be made within a reasonable time.

An adjustment is reasonable if it balances the interests of all parties affected.

Learn more about reasonable adjustments in Section 3.4 of the Disability Standards for Education 2005.


Reference date

The date at which schools identify the student population to count for the purposes of NCCD. For the NCCD, this is the same date as the schools census collected under the Australian Education Act 2013; that is, the first Friday in August.

School census

The national school census is required under the Australian Education Act 2013. Data from this census is used to calculate school funding, to inform education policy and programs and for statistical reporting, including the National Schools Statistics Collection.

School team

The principal may identify and nominate a school team to drive the NCCD process. 

The school team is generally a team of staff in the school or supporting the school; it may include teachers with specific experience or qualifications in disability studies, but this is not mandatory. In some regional, rural and remote schools that have a very small staff, the school team could consist of one person, the principal.

The school team is responsible to the principal, who is ultimately responsible for endorsing the NCCD.

The school team provides a mechanism for the coordination of teaching and learning and embedding support for learning into the culture and practice of the school. It plays a role in supporting teachers in identifying and responding to the additional learning needs of students, in leading and supporting professional development for staff, and in supporting high expectations for every student, including those students who require adjustments to their learning. The school team supports collaborative partnerships between the school, parents/carers, other professionals and the wider school community.

Special assistance school

A school that is, or is likely to be, recognised by the state or territory minister for the school as a special assistance school, and primarily caters for students with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

Special school

A school that is, or is likely to be, recognised by the state or territory minister for the school as a special school, and provides education under special programs, or special activities, designed specifically for students with disability.

Specialised equipment

Equipment that supports the participation of students with disability. For example, text-to-speech software, speech-generating devices and devices for physical activities.

Specialised services

Professional services that support the participation of students with disability. For example, speech pathology, psychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social work.

Student with disability

A student who meets the requirements to be counted in the NCCD for a school.

Student with disability loading

The funding loading provided for students with disability.

Support staff

Staff who work to support the participation of people with disability. For example, specialist teachers, educational consultants, interpreters, note-takers and education assistants (teacher aides, teacher assistants, school learning support).

Universal Design for Learning

An approach that considers the needs of all learners from the beginning. This results in flexible teaching that enables everyone to access education. For example, if a school ensures all the videos in its libraries have subtitles, this can assist all students, including those with hearing impairment.


In the context of the NCCD, validation is when a principal verifies and confirms the accuracy of the school's NCCD data before it is submitted.


The act of treating someone unfairly because they complain about being discriminated against. The student or their associate is treated less favourably because they have asserted their legal rights, or complained or intend to complain, about their treatment due to disability.

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