Accessibility Tools

Disability in Media: Books We Recommend

Here at Access4u, we pride ourselves on a key practice principle of exploration. Exploration, in this case, means continually educating ourselves about the disability sector.

This not includes upskilling to become better professionals and learning from each other and our customers - it also includes learning from those with lived experience outside our organisation. This involves consuming content across multiple medium about disability.

So, we have put together this blog that spotlights some of our favourite non-fiction and fictional books that are written or focus on real people with disability. See our list below....

Non-Fiction Books

Growing Up Disabled in Australia: a non-fiction anthology by Carly Findlay

Carly Findlay is an Australian blogger, writer, speaker and appearance activist. She challenges people's thinking about what it's like to have a visibly different appearance.

Her book, Growing Up Disabled in Australia, interviews prominent Australians with disability, poetry and graphic art, as well as more than 40 original pieces by writers with a disability or chronic illness.

Later Bloomer: How an Autism Diagnosis Changed My Life by Clem Bastow

Clem Bastow grew up feeling like she'd missed a key memo on human behaviour. She found the unspoken rules of social engagement confusion, arbitrary and often stressful. Friendships were hard, relationships harder, and the office was a fluorescent-lit nightmare of anxiety. It wasn't until Clem was diagnosed as autistic, at age 36, that things clicked into focus.

This memoir challenges the broader cultural implications and ideas around autism, especially for women and gender-diverse people, deconstructing the misconceptions and celebrating the realities of the autistic experience.

Different, Not Less: A Neurodivergent's Guide to Embracing Your True Self and Finding Your Happily Ever After by Chloe Hayden

Growing up, Chloe Hayden felt like she'd crash landed on an alien planet where nothing made sense. Eye contact? Small talk? And WHY are you people so touch oriented? She moved between 10 schools in 8 years, struggling to become a person she believed society would accept, and she was eventually diagnosed with autism and ADHD.

This book is an empowering lived-experience guide to celebrating and supporting neurodivergence from 24-year-old Australian actor, social media star and advocate Chloe Hayden.

Frida Kahlo and My Left Leg by Emily Rapp Black

Since adolescence, Emily Rapp, herself an amputee since the age of four, felt that there were many things she had in common with Frida Kahlo.

From the first sight of Kahlo's painting of the devastating bush crash that almost killed her, Rapp felt a sense of kinship with the artist. They both endured numerous operations; both alternately hid and revealed their bodies; and both found a way to live and create, despite physical and emotional pain.

Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century by Alice Wong (Editor)

This anthology gives a glimpse into the rich complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of the community.

It invites readers to question their own understandings. It celebrates and documents disability culture in the now. It looks to the future and the past with hope and love.

Music Our Bodies Can't Hold by Andy Jackson

This book is an exploration into Marfan Syndrome, and into illness and disability.

This book comprises of poems, and each of these poems is a portrait of someone with or reputed to have had Marfan Syndrome.

Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig

Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous, inspirational, or angelic. None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling.

Disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. By exploring this truth in essays, Taussig illustrates the need for more stories and more voices to understand the diversity of humanity. Sitting Pretty challenges us to be patient and vigilant, practical and imaginative, kind and relentless, as we set to work to write an entirely different story.

Children and Young-Adult Fiction

This Beach is Loud! by Samantha Cotterill

Going to the beach is exciting. But it can also be busy. And loud. Sand can feel hot or itchy or sticky... and it gets everywhere!

In This Beach is Loud!, a sensitive boy gets overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds, and sensations at the beach. Luckily, this kiddo's dad has a trick up his sleeve to help his son face these unexpected obstacles. This Beach Is Loud! gently offers practical advice for coping with new experiences to sensitive children on and off the autism spectrum.

What Happened To You? By James Catchpole

This is the first ever picture book addressing how a disabled child might want to be spoken.

What happened to you? Was it a shark? A burglar? A lion? Did it fall off?

Every time Joe goes out, the questions are the same... what happened to his leg? But is this even a question Joe has to answer? A ground-breaking, funny story that helps children understand what it might feel like to be seen as different.

I Am Not A Label by Cerrie Burnell

Meet 34 artists, thinkers, athletes, and activists with disabilities, from past and present. From Frida Kahlo to Stephen Hawking, find out how these iconic figures have overcome obstances, owned their differences, and paved the way for others by making their bodies and minds work for them.

These short biographies tell the stories of people who have faced unique challenges that have not stopped them from becoming trailblazers, innovators, advocates, and makers. Each person is a leading figure in their field, be it sports, science, math, art, breakdancing, or the world of pop.


El Deafo, a graphic novel by Cece Bell

This middle-grade coming of age graphic novel is autobiographical - the author and illustrator Cece Bell is deaf.

This graphic novel is a hugely enjoyable read for adults and children alike.

A Face for Picasso by Ariel Henley

Ariel Henley's YA memoir is an insider's take on facial disfigurement. Real life is often crueler than fiction. 

Ariel explores beauty and identity in her young-adult memoir about resilience, sisterhood and the strength it takes to put your life, and yourself, back together time and time again.