We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of New South Wales stands.

Disability Inclusion Action Plan

The Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) 2017–20 highlights our progress and presents our strategy for further improving accessibility and inclusion at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

It reinforces our commitment to the inclusion and participation of people with disability. We want to ensure that all members of the community have an opportunity to experience our collection, exhibitions, programs and facilities.

What is disability?

The 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines persons with disabilities to include those ‘who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’.

The Gallery subscribes to the social model of disability, distinguishing the difference between the individual’s impairment and the disability as the environmental or attitudinal barriers created by society. ‘Barriers’ are disabling factors that limit opportunity and create disadvantage. Disability can be temporary or permanent, visible or invisible.

The Gallery acknowledges that not everyone who encounters disabling factors identifies as a person with disability. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may identify as part of a cultural and linguistic group, their first language being Auslan. Mental health is also included in this definition, but not everyone with a mental health condition identifies as having disability.

Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2017–20

1. Attitudes and behaviours

The attitudes and behaviours of the general community towards people with disability have been described as the single greatest barrier to full access and inclusion. Attitudes and behaviour permeate all aspects of life.


Develop positive attitudes through increasing awareness and revising policy and practice.


  • Achieve a top-down and bottom-up culture where all staff are responsible for creating an accessible and equitable Gallery environment.

  • Establish a Disability Equality Advisory Group comprised of people with disability.

  • Conduct an access review of the current Gallery scholarship program and target promotion of scholarships to artists with disability.

  • Scope the potential for a dedicated Art Gallery of NSW scholarship for an artist with disability.

  • Scope collecting, exhibiting and commissioning work by artists with disability.

  • Include access awareness training in all staff induction activities.

2. Liveable communities

Creating liveable communities for people with disability is more than modifying the physical environment; it covers areas such as access to transport, community recreation and culture, social engagement and universal design.


Deliver an accessible physical and digital space to enable universal engagement.


  • Conduct a full building audit of existing building (Domain site). Identify audit report actions that may be implemented within the DIAP period.

  • Provide more accessible seating inside and outside the Gallery.

  • Upskill front-of-house workers to support Gallery visitors with disability.

  • Review current Gallery website to see how we comply with WCAG 2.0 standards, with a view to making sure that the new Gallery website (in the planning phase during 2017) meets at least the AA level and, where possible, the AAA level.

  • Explore the potential for providing audio descriptions for artworks, with a view to establishing an audio description policy. Explore providing audio description training for curators.

  • Investigate Easy Read options for key information on the Gallery website.

  • Ensure relevant Gallery documents are available in accessible formats.

  • Investigate how to integrate access into exhibition planning and design, including access to labelling or wall text in exhibitions especially for people with vision impairment (lighting, font size, positioning, braille and multi-sensory labels).

  • Scope the resources needed for ensuring videos shown on the website are accessible, with captioning and transcripts.

  • Research best practice around audio descriptions of video content and how this may be applied to Gallery-produced video.

  • Include access line in all budget templates.

  • Review artist application process for Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes to include access requirements and possibility of identifying as an equality role model.

3. Employment

Employment rates for people with disability are significantly lower than for people without disability. People with disability experience multiple barriers at all stages of the employment process, ranging from inaccessible interview venues, lack of reasonable adjustments to the work environment, and rigid role descriptions and online testing that may place applicants at a disadvantage. These factors reduce the opportunities for people with disability to gain and retain employment. Research indicates that organisational commitment to workforce equality and inclusion is closely linked to strong business performance.


Increase workplace equality, diversity and inclusion.


  • Prioritise contractors who support employment of people with disability.

  • Scope a staff mentor program to support employees with disability.

  • Review internships with a view to implementing an equality internship for underrepresented groups.

  • Develop an equality workforce strategy.

  • Survey Gallery workers to gauge perceptions on equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Compare results to the recent NSW People Matter Employee Survey.

  • Ask all workers for information on access requirements as part of the induction process. Apply this information to future workplace design and flexibility strategies, and, where possible, implement individual support requirements.

4. Systems and processes

A common barrier for people with disability is the difficulty in navigating systems and processes to access essential community services, venues and support. This could relate to ways of accessing information, available channels of communication, or simply a lack of options to access services.


Increase visibility of Gallery services, processes and systems to enhance visitor experience.


  • Ensure that there is a range of feedback and complaint mechanisms that meet various access requirements. Ensure there is adequate signage to enable people to submit feedback. Explore the potential of feedback using portable devices.

  • Ensure feedback reports are regularly reviewed and integrated with DIAP reviews.

  • Review current building evacuation procedures and training to ensure the requirements of people with disability are addressed.

  • Conduct periodic tests and maintenance for all assistive technologies (including hearing loops).

  • Scope phone and online booking/ticketing system that provides clear options for customers with disability to request assistance or support for events.

  • Review bespoke programs for people with disability.

  • Review report from the 2015–16 UTS research project on the impact of arts engagement for individuals with dementia.

  • Review and further develop partnerships with arts and disability organisations.

  • Conduct a systems and processes audit that will inform the next DIAP and detailed design development of the expansion project.

  • Ensure disability equality programs and services are well communicated.

More information

For more information, including the director’s foreword to the plan, the Art Gallery’s mission, data profile, the history of the DIAP, the process, our vision, monitoring and review, case studies, definitions and acknowledgements, see the full Disability Action Plan 2017–20 document.

Also available

Simplified English summary