Persons with disabilities: Cure or accommodate?

From a medical perspective, disability may be viewed as the result of a physical condition intrinsic to the individual which may reduce that person's quality of life and cause disadvantages. A major purpose of medical research can thus be viewed as aiming to discover ways of limiting and, if possible, 'curing' disabilities to alleviate disadvantage.

On the other hand, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires governments to make 'reasonable accommodation' for persons with disabilities. It's an approach that prioritises removing the social and physical barriers that create disadvantage.

So where should scarce governmental resources be channelled: toward finding cures or making reasonable accommodations?

On 8 November 2016 an expert panel, moderated by broadcaster Jon Faine, gathered at the State Library of Victoria to consider these complex issues.

An audio recording of the event is available below or visit the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute website to access a full transcript.


  • Dr Dianne Ashworth
    First recipient of bionic eye transplant and Lecturer In Social Work, Deakin University
  • Professor Richard Dowell
    Graeme Clark Chair in Audiology and Speech Science at The University of Melbourne
  • Professor Helen Herrman
    Director at Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health
  • Mr Graeme Innes AM
    Previous Disability Discrimination Commissioner
  • Professor Anne Kavanagh
    Director of the Centre for Women's Health, Gender and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne

Banner image titled 'Not titled' by artist, George Aristovoulou 2015. With thanks to Arts Project Australia.