Definitions of disability and the NCCD categories
What is disability as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992?
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) defines disability broadly 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 judgement 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.
What is 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. At a minimum the student’s parent, guardian or carer must have been consulted about concerns the school has and been involved in identifying reasonable adjustments to address the identified concerns.
A personalised learning plan or behaviour management plan does not equate to a child having a disability, but may be an indicator of an imputed disability when it documents the teaching and learning adjustments that have been made so that the child can access the curriculum.
Social disadvantage and/or disrupted parenting can be addressed through evidence-based quality teaching and in and of itself does not constitute a disability under the DDA.
A good test of your own confidence in the judgement is to ask, ‘If we were challenged to explain our decision would we feel we had reasonable grounds and documentation to support our judgement?’
See the Imputing disability for the NCCD page for more information.
What are the implications for the NCCD?
The model for the NCCD is based on the existing obligations of all Australian schools under the DDA and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (the Standards). The Standards clarify the obligations of schools under the DDA to provide reasonable adjustments for students with disability where required so that they can access and participate in education on an equitable basis to their peers.
If a student has multiple disabilities, teachers and school teams determine which disability category has the greatest impact on the student’s education and is the main driver of adjustments to support the student’s access and participation. This decision is based on professional judgement.
How do the NCCD categories relate to definitions of disability?
The following infographic matches definitions of disability from the DDA and the Standards with the broad disability categories that are used in the NCCD.
Download the Categories of disability infographic This link will open in a new window (PDF).
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