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A physical disability can be described as a condition that permanently prevents normal body movement or control. Physical disability may also be referred to as “physical impairment”. There are many possible causes of physical disability, including inherited or genetic disorders such as muscular dystrophy, conditions present at birth such as spina bifida, serious illness affecting the brain, nerves or muscles such as meningitis, accidents leading to spinal cord injury or accidents leading to brain injury.
The impact of physical disability can be influenced by the severity of the condition or injury causing the disability, but also by a person’s physical environment and the accessibility of their community.1
The spectrum of impairments range from asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and cancer to more obvious physical conditions such as spina bifida and genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome. In their own fashion, each can be as damaging as any other.
Inclusion is the preferred educational option. School systems make every effort to do this. If it is not possible, they use either special classes or special schools with curriculum and staffing modifications.
This page looks at associations working in this area, selected educational sites and learning technologies including tips and strategies.
- Genetic Alliance Australia
‘Support for those affected directly or indirectly by genetic conditions’. Their Useful Support Services lists support groups and associations. Previously known as the Association of Genetic Support of Australasia.
- Association for Children with a Disability
Parental Support Service, Fact Sheets, siblings, dads, links, regional contacts. Accessibility to Transport/Travel.
- Brain Foundation
The Brain, Healthy Brain, Stroke, Brain Tumour, A-Z of Brain Disorders, research, news, events, library, links.
- Carers Australia
What’s New ?, advocacy, information, resources, state organisations, more.
- CP Australia
‘Promotes the interests, rights, roles and wellbeing of people with cerebral palsy and similar disorders’. News, Learning Centre, publications, search engine, links.
- Cystic Fibrosis Australia
News, events, resources, forums, state organisations, CF stories.
- Epilepsy Action Australia
Understanding, interaction, news, media & resources, publications, sections for Teens and Kids, First Aid. Section on “Epilepsy & Seizures”.
- Motor Neurone Disease Association of Australia
FAQs, state associations, issues, literature, archived material, news.
- Multiple Sclerosis Australia
Research, how they help, news & events, publications, archived material, online learning, newsletter, resources.
- Muscular Dystrophy Association
Disorders, 101 questions, resources, linked sites, programs, research, support.
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta Society of Australia
Information, FAQs, Photo Gallery, newsletter, services/resources, links.
- Physical Disability Australia
News, NDIS, submissions, links, contact information.
- Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
Services, FAQs, Hot Topics, events, publications, news, links.
- Down Syndrome NSW
What’s New ?, information, new parents, forum, photo gallery, newsletter, library, D.A.D.S., links, blog.
- Head Injured Society of Western Australia
Advocacy, information, head injuries, Fact Sheets, personal journeys, contact information.
- Interchange Victoria
‘Provides support to families who have a child with a disability’.
‘Therapy, equipment and home support services for children and young people with disability, as well as inclusion support to child care services’. South Australia.
- Physical Disability Council of NSW
FAQs, news, issues, publications, priorities, education, student index, online guide, service guide, more.
- Spina Bifida Foundation Victoria
- Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Queensland
- Spinal Injuries Australia [Qld]
Services & support, getting involved, injury prevention, news & events, more.
- The Northcott Society
NSW. Supports children with neuro-muscular disabilities and acquired injuries.
‘Yooralla provides quality disability services for Victorians in need’. Services, publications, news, further links.
- Arthritis Foundation
Resources, research, magazine, conditions & treatments, message board, quiz, drug guide. USA.
- Congenital Heart Information Network
Information and data grouped under 4 major headings - Community, Resources, Links and About. USA.
- Cystic Fibrosis Trust
Information, research, more. UK.
- National Down Syndrome Society
‘Benefit people with Down syndrome and their families through national leadership in education, research and advocacy’. USA.
- The National Spinal Cord Injury Association
News & information, a “new injury”, A-Z of Resources, surveys, studies, press room. USA.
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation
Information for Parents, Youth, Caregivers and Volunteers, news & events, medical treatment information, resources, Chat Room, links. USA.
Check other relevant state/territory links on the main Special Education page.
- Australian Association of Special Education
‘Concerned with all who have special education needs’. State chapters, journals,, position papers links.
- Cerebral Palsy Alliance
NSW. Services for children and adults. Primarily Cerebral Palsy.
- Disability Education Section [ACT]
NDIS, services, Early Childhood Intervention, Specialist School programs.
- Disability Programs [NSW]
Information and links about special education in New South Wales. Not just physical disabilities.
- Disabilities Support Services [WSI]
Details specific services at this TAFE NSW college. Also available at other colleges. Includes assistive technology and access and mobility support.
- Education Adjustment Program [EAP]
‘A process for identifying and responding to the educational needs of students with disability who require significant education adjustments’. Education Queensland.
- Inclusive Education Policies
Department of Education, WA.
- Noah’s Ark Inc.
‘Victoria’s largest Early Childhood Intervention and Inclusion Support Program for children with additional needs’.
- Prompts for Physical Impairment Criterion 2 information
Education Queensland. ‘Information provided by the school on the activity limitations and participation restrictions of the diagnosed condition in at least two of the domains of gross mobility, fine mobility, self-care and communication’.
- Physical as Anything
‘Written for teachers, schools, healthcare professionals, students and families’. DEC, NSW.
- Program for Students with Disabilities
DET, Victoria. Details include physical disabilities. Special Needs Support and Complex Medical Needs [Policy] provide further information.
- Special Education and Disability [NT]
Information, contacts available in multiple areas.
Selected Schools & Teaching Centres
- Adelaide West Special Education Centre
‘A Reception to Year 13 specialist public school for students with physical and associated disabilities’.
- Belmore School
‘Specialist school for children with physical disabilities and health impairments’.
- Glenallen School
‘A specialist school for students aged 4.8 to 18 years who have a physical disability and/or significant health impairment’. Victoria.
- Regency Park School
‘South Australian Government school for students with physical and related disabilities’.
Includes sites for information and resource suppliers of adaptive and other technology.
In addition to the equipment, etc., listed below, also check the Special Education Resources page.
- Achievable Concepts
‘Adapted Recreation and Sporting Equipment for People with Disabilities [and the Aged]’.
Australian. What‘s new ?, FAQs, catalogue, equipment trials, training, assessment services.
- Solve Disability Solutions
‘Volunteer members design, construct or modify equipment for people with disabilities’. Victoria.
- Telstra Disability Services
Techniques and tools supplied by Telstra to aid those with disabilities.
- Assistive Technology
Links to assistive technology. Not only physical disabilities.
- Software for People With Disability
Annotated links to software. Not only physical disabilities.
Tools, Techniques & Strategies
Access strategies developed in British Columbia covering the conditions noted.
- Cerebral Palsy 
- Down’s Syndrome
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Spina Bifida
- Specialist Staff Working with Students with Disabilities
‘Education Queensland employs specialist staff who work with students with disabilities’.
- Strategies for Teaching Students With Motor/Orthopaedic Impairments
Document in Word format.
1. Physical Disability, Education Queensland, 30 July 2015. Web. 14 Feb 2016. Physical Disability.