An artist’s interpretation of the National Standards for Disability Services

Mr David Taylor1, Professor Patricia O’Brien1

1Centre For Disability Studies, Camperdown, Australia, 2Studio A, Crows Nest, Australia

Disability Services in Australia are required to display an accessible English version of the National Standards for Disability Services (NSDS) on their premises. These standards are often visualized using stock images. The Inclusive Research Network (IRN) has partnered with an artist with a lived experience of intellectual disability to investigate ways in which the NSDS might be visualized in a way that both increases accessibility while also creating a more human environment.

The IRN, a group of experienced researchers with lived experience of intellectual disabilities, were approached by Studio A about using their expertise to assist in visually translating the NSDS. A series of draft images for each standard was sent to the IRN who discussed the appropriateness of each image as a means of communicating the central idea of each standard. The artist would then receive that IRN’s feedback. This process was repeated until both the IRN and Studio A artist were satisfied with the collection of images. A final poster of the standards with these images would then be produced.

There are three key implications for this project. Firstly, this project gives people with a lived experience of intellectual disability direct input into how NSDS are presented to their peers. It also increases people with disabilities’ input into the aesthetic environment of their spaces and exposes more of the community to artworks produced by people with a lived experience of intellectual disability.


David Taylor is a researcher at the Centre for Disability Studies and the facilitator of the Inclusive Research Network. His research background is in political theory and philosophy.

Patricia O’Brien is the director of the Centre for Disability Studies, leading a team of researchers, educators and clinicians in implementing the vision of the organisation, Building Capacity for Change. At CDS Patricia promotes research that is inclusive of people with disabilities as co-researchers, as well as the promotion of access to tertiary education for students with intellectual disabilities.

The Inclusive Research Network are group of people with a lived experience of intellectual disabilities and their allies who design and implement research project that align with their interests. They are hosted and facilitated by the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Sydney, Camperdown.

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