About Us

The Disability Innovation Institute was established in 2017 as a world first initiative to support interdisciplinary disability research, uniquely combining disability studies with STEM, arts and humanities research applied to disability innovation.

The Institute is central to the university’s profile as a global leader in disability-inclusive research and social justice. We facilitate interdisciplinary disability research and educational pedagogy, collaborating with others to design accessible and inclusive working, living and learning environments, generate innovative technologies and create inclusive and equitable practice and policy.

Our vision is to produce a sustainable change in the lives of people with disability, creating and sharing knowledge that is interdisciplinary, innovative and inclusive through research and education.


Supporting the expansion of high quality interdisciplinary disability research and education

  1. Support high-quality research and education that facilitates the inclusion of people with disability as experts, teachers and researchers
  2. Build a community of disability interest across UNSW and beyond
  3. Be a thought leader and source of evidence-based expertise and advice.


    Building a community of disability researchers and educators across UNSW

    • Connecting disability researchers across UNSW and beyond, building partnerships with government, industry and the community to foster strong and inclusive research proposals
    • Providing guidance on inclusive approaches to disability research and education for UNSW staff and students
    • Highlighting innovative practice through public events including our interdisciplinary research seminars
    • Supporting internal stakeholders to grow UNSW capacity and knowledge about Universal Design for Learning
    • Providing advice, support and evidence-informed expertise to UNSW Divisions and Faculties to enable high-quality initiatives that support disability knowledge and programs.


      Our understanding of disability

      Disability is part of the human condition, and a complex and evolving concept. We understand disability as resulting from the interaction between people’s impairments, and the attitudinal or environmental barriers that hinder their flourishing and their participation in society on an equal basis. It can include people with short term or fluctuating conditions. The term currently preferred in Australia by disability advocates and in policy is ‘people with disability’.

      Our history

      UNSW has over 25 years' history in disability advocacy and research. The Disability Innovation Institute emerged from the Disability@UNSW network, a collaboration of academics and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students from faculties across UNSW whose work involves enhancing the lives of people with disability through all forms of research, teaching and engagement with policy and practice.

      Led by Professor Jackie Leach Scully our team comprises Academic leads for Education, Engagement & Research. 

      The Advisory Council provides strategic advice, direction and support to the Disability Innovation Institutes Director, Professor Jackie Leach Scully.