Our Engagement With Disabilities

Sex Positivity And People With Disabilities | Promoting Sex And Disabilities

People With Disabilities And Sex | Engagement With Sex And Disabilities

In 2008 Allena Gabosch defined sex positivity in her article 'A Sex Positive Renaissance'. In this she has defined sex positivity as:

"An attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation. The sex-positive movement is a social and philosophical movement that advocates these attitudes. The sex-positive movement advocates sex education and safer sex as part of its campaign."

What makes humanity unique in terms of sexual activity is that we are one of the few species on the planet which engage in sexual activity for the focus of pleasure and not necessarily reproduction. Sex to us is about love and passion as well as enjoyment. There are various scholars and theorists which attempt to debunk this and regardless of where you sit on the spectrum, it is undeniable that the majority of living creatures on this planet do not have sex for pleasure. The Sex Positivity movement is responsible for breaking down the taboos of sexual behaviour in humans, and it is allowing us to discuss sex and sexuality in increasingly open facets and without guilt or embarrassment.


Sex Positive Movement Helping With Disabilities And Sex And Enabling Couples To Practice Intimacy


Even if we do not necessarily understand, or have heard of the sex positive movement, we are subjected to it on a constant and almost daily basis. Using sex and sexuality for advertising, the increasing presence of sex and sexuality in popular culture are just two examples of society engaging with sex positivity and slowly unpacking our conservative attitudes that we have previously held towards the idea of sexual culture.

Yet, there are limitations. People with mental and physical disabilities are continually being associated with as being sexless and asexual or devoid of sex and sexuality. Indeed, there are many articles out there which support this and which will arrive at the conclusion that people with disabilities have their sexual needs and desires ignored. At Adult Lifestyle Centres, we acknowledge the presence of disabilities within sex and we have sourced numerous products which will allow people with disabilities to still engage in sexual activity. We stand beside many organisations within NSW which also acknowledge this view and we actively work towards providing an awareness to not only these organisations, but also to carers and families of people with disabilities in order to assist with individual’s sexual awareness and sexual engagement.


Young Male In A Wheelchair Carrying His Girlfriend Is Entited To Use An Adult Store That Caters To His Disabilities


Touching Base:-

Touching Base is based in Sydney NSW, Australia and has been an active organisation since late 2000. It was constructed through an acknowledgement of the need to provide assistance in the connection of people with disability and sex workers. Touching Base sees a focus on the accessibility of sex workers for people with disabilities, basic human rights as defined by the UN and The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the legal issues and barriers that have been erected by societal attitudes concerning these two marginalised communities.

Touching Base is an organisation which provides information for people with disabilities or their carer’s and families, on accessing the sex worker industry and they have a referral list on their website to facilitate this. The referral list helps in connecting people with disabilities to appropriate sex workers based on the clients disabilities, their sexuality, and their sexual desires. This referral involves a series of questions concerning the individual, their needs, desires, requested activities, as well as their functionality in order to determine and assess an appropriate and suitable sex worker that can assist them with their desires. This ensures an appropriate match, as well as ensuring that a client is connected with a suitable sex worker that understands the specifics of a client’s disabilities, providing a level of safety for all involved. From there the sex worker can either engage in physical sexual activity, or they might be responsible for using sexual aides on their clients. The sex workers don’t just have male clients, but they may also have female clients as well and have the option of a wide variety of sexual aides for women and men.



By having an understanding and knowledge base concerning disabilities, a sex worker can not only ensure the safety of the client at all times, but also be aware of the accommodations necessary to have a fulfilling sexual experience. To facilitate this, Touching base also provides training, workshops, and information and resources for sex workers in regards to people with disabilities, so that they can be more informed. Sex Workers can provide their details to Touching Base so that they can be connected with appropriate clients and undergo the necessary training. At this current moment in time, Touching Base does not receive any government funding.


Sexuality And Disability Education Program:-

This program is run by Family Planning NSW and has clinics in Ashfield, Newcastle, Penrith, Dubbo and Fairfield. They specialise in delivering education and training in the fields of reproductive and sexual health and have been providing education to the disability community for three decades. Family Planning NSW is backed by a range of organisations and bodies which include the Australian Skills Quality Authority, and the NSW institute of Teachers, so one can rest assured that they have the resources and training behind them in order to best facilitate the delivery and ensure the quality of resources and information that are given to the community. Their focus is on building knowledge, and providing the resources for vulnerable communities such as people with disabilities, as well as meeting the needs of rural and remote communities which may or may not have the same level of access to such resources as other communities. The work done by the Family Health Planning facilitates the building of knowledge within teachers, disability workers, health care workers and carers in providing support and education regarding the areas of sex, sexuality, relationships and sexual activity for people with an intellectual disability.


What Are The Needs For People With Disabilities?

It is clear that people with disabilities have needs that differ from the rest of the population. In addition, these needs must be addressed in an appropriate fashion which facilitates the requirements and understanding of the individual. The NSW council for Intellectual disability has identified the needs for people with individuals, much of which has been taken and modified from the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Man With Intellectual Disability With Carer And Suppport Dog Has Equal Right To A Healthy And Active Sex Life


The council recognises that all individuals need to have the right to make informed decisions and choices regarding their relationships, sexual activities and sexuality and they acknowledge that many people with intellectual disabilities have boyfriends, girlfriends, or partners. They have taken a sex positive approach and they acknowledge that people with an intellectual disability experience sexual feelings and urges in the same regard as other people. Unfortunately, due to the social stigma that people with disabilities shouldn't engage in sexual activity, or the assumption that they have no sexual desires, people with disabilities often do not receive the same sexual education as their able bodied/mainstream peers.

The UN convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities acknowledges that in many cases, people with disabilities are removed from sexual education classes when they receive formal schooling and education. They may be removed for a variety of reasons, which could include an inability to be able to understand the content, the assumption that they do not need sexual education, or indeed the Educational Institution may have a program which sees people with disabilities removed from mainstream classes to provide them with a more 'tailored' education. As a consequence people with disabilities are often severely lacking in sexual health and education, making them far more vulnerable within society.


Education Often Lacks Information Regarding Sexual Health Of Individuals With Disabilities And Adult Lifestyle Centres Are Helping With Providing Information


People with disabilities need to be in a position in which they can make informed choices about their sexual health and activities and that they often need tailored and specified information and support to aid them in their decisions concerning sexual health, relationships, sexual activity delivered in an appropriate fashion with regards to their disability. Without this support and knowledge, people are far more vulnerable and are more likely to make choices which adversely affect their health and well-being and make them exceptionally vulnerable to forms of abuse. According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies there are no standard national data collections concerning the prevalence of sexual assault and abuse amongst adults with a disability.

However, a highly cited research paper publish by Wilson and Brewer in the early 90's found that people with a disability were twice as likely to be the victims of a personal crime, and 10.7 times more likely to be a victim of sexual assault. (Wilson & Brewer, 1992). A more recent study by CASA (Centres Against Sexual Assault) in 2007 published by Heenan& Murray found that of 850 reported rapes in Victoria 26.5% were identified as an individual with a disability. It goes without saying that these statistics are worrying.



The Education Program acknowledges that tailored education concerning these issues will help individuals think about, and feel more at ease with their sexuality and relationship status. It is further acknowledged that this program needs to deal with the notion of consent, sexual health, and the accessibility of sexual health services.  This education often begins in schools and classrooms and this is why the sex and sexual health program is continually being revamped in order to keep up with modern technology and societal thought. Formal education is important to people with disabilities as they may not be in a position to informally learn about sex and sexuality through popular culture and peers, and if they do, they may not understand the construction of this informal learning and how it is biased, skewed or poorly depicted. As such, young people with disabilities need to receive formal education on things such as bodily functions, masturbation, notion of consent, intercourse and penetrative sex, practicing safe sex, as well as varying types of relationships such as heterosexual and same sex relationships.

Privacy is a big issue when concerning people with disabilities. Especially when an individual requires constant care, they may not have an opportunity to engage in private acts of sexual fulfilment such as intercourse or masturbation. Privacy can also aid in the development of intimate relationships, which a lot of people with disabilities do not have access to. Kissing, cuddling, touching is an important part of sex and sexuality and it is something which needs to be developed within and explained to all individuals. Without privacy, the idea of consent can often be skewed, and when support workers and families don't feel comfortable talking to individuals about sexuality, then often such an individual is viewed as asexual and their sexual needs are ignored. This can drastically affect an individual’s behaviour and levels of aggression as they desperately try and deal with something that they may or may not understand. The thing is, that it is up to the person with the intellectual disability to decide as to whether they want to be sexual or not and that is a decision that cannot, and should not, be made by carers or support workers.


The Provision Of Privacy Is A Need Which Is Often Ignored For People With Intellectual Or Physical Disabilities


You'll notice that all of the above organisations have a strong focus on education, or the provision of sex workers towards people with disabilities. Where Adult Lifestyle Centres differ is that we provide Adult Related products that can facilitate sexual fulfilment through masturbation or with a sexual partner with or without the presence of carers. That being Adult Lifestyle Centres stock a range of products which can aide in masturbation or sexual activity with another person, or can aide in the positioning of individuals for sexual activity. This provides an alternative option for carers and families that do not necessarily want to engage in the services of sex worker, but still want to provide the person with a disability access to sexual activity. As such we provide information and resources to these organisations to provide more options to people with disabilities and their carer’s, paving the way for an understanding of the various sexual aides that are on the market for, and can be utilised by, people with disabilities. This adheres to Adult Lifestyle Centres inclusive attitude and reinforces our desire to be a sex positive body within the Sex Industry.

Back to Top