As advocates look ahead to opportunities to shift narratives around disability, a new guide aims to help them develop defining and persuasive messaging. The By Us, For Us – Disability Messaging Guide – produced as part of a partnership between Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) and Australian Progress and born of a research project into shifting public narratives – was launched at a webinar on Thursday 18 April, and includes messaging tips that have been proven to be effective in building public support for social change.

The guide was developed by a team including people with disability and experienced disability advocates, and is available in Easy Read.

Presenters in the webinar noted that the time is ripe to build support for the changes that the disability community needs, and that persuasive narratives and solutions would be needed to do so.

What’s in the Disability Messaging Guide

The Disability Messaging Guide is designed to help advocates to shape their messages for the public and government – especially with upcoming opportunities for change, including the Federal budget and elections at state and national levels over the next 12 months.

It presents two themes for framing discussions about disability: self determination, and diversity. Self determination highlights the desire by people with disability to be able to exercise power over their lives, while diversity focuses on the size of Australia’s disability community, and the different experiences within it.

The guide then provides tips on how to design narratives about disability, including:

1. Following the vision-barrier-action story structure

2. Using the design frame, which is similar to the social model of disability

3. Using strengths-based language and avoiding deficit language

4. Telling the stories of the disability community clearly, rather than focusing on ‘myth busting’

5. Bringing discussion about the NDIS back to its value and benefits

6. Using “relatable human stories” to build empathy for people with disability

7. Demonstrating that change is possible

Access the full By Us, For Us – Disability Messaging Guide here.

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