Inclusion of students with disability at school: Impact of disability awareness training and physical activity on attitudes of students without disabilities

Fiona Rillotta, Parimala Raghavendra, Abirami Thirumanickam

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Background and Aims: It is important to promote acceptance and inclusion within school communities, to educate and motivate young people to become agents of change (Parker et al., 2013). Disability awareness, including opportunity for interaction, has been found to improve attitudes towards people with disability (Moore & Nettelbeck, 2013). Most previous research has focused on disability awareness training with limited opportunities for natural interactions. This study investigates the effects of disability awareness training followed by inclusive physical education (PE) classes at a co-located mainstream and special school site in Adelaide, South Australia. Methods: Year 7 students without disabilities (N=9) from the mainstream school (aged 12 to 14) participated in disability awareness facilitated by the researchers and their teacher within school curriculum. Students with various disabilities (N=6) from the special school (aged 11 to 18) were the other group of participants in this study. Students from both schools participated in joint PE classes over one school term. A student experience survey (adapted from Rillotta & Nettelbeck, 2007; Siperstein et al., 2007) asked mainstream students to describe their understanding of disability before and after the awareness training and joint PE. The survey also measured attitudes and frequency of interaction with students with disability before and after. Results: Students without disabilities had little knowledge about disability prior to the awareness training and joint PE. Results will be discussed in terms of changes in understanding of disability, attitudes, and interactions after the awareness training and joint PE. Implications: This research may provide initial evidence to inform practices associated with increasing disability awareness and promoting social inclusion in schools. It emphasises the value of disability awareness in school curriculum and inclusive physical education in improving peer interactions and attitudes towards the inclusion of people with disability.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2018
EventThe Inclusive Education Summit - Geelong, Australia
Duration: 26 Oct 201828 Oct 2018


ConferenceThe Inclusive Education Summit


  • inclusion of students with disability
  • attitudes
  • awareness
  • physical activity
  • school


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