What is it like to screen with a disability?

On International Day of People with Disability, Consumer Network member Annie Fisher reflects on her experiences screening, and passion for advocating for clients with disabilities. 

From booking her appointment and then getting a breast screen, Annie says the entire process at BreastScreen Victoria was reassuring and respectful. 

“I found that as a person with disability using the telephone service 13 20 50 to book my breast screen means I can relay my specific needs, and also discuss the closest and most accessible service with staff.” 

At BreastScreen Victoria we know that there can be barriers that makes it harder for women with disability to screen. To address this, we are working to make our services more accessible, inclusive and safe. This includes offering longer appointments when needed, disability training for staff, sharing resources with GPs, and information on our website about screening with disabilities

Annie says it is the radiographers' communication and understanding that makes all the difference. She explains that many people with disabilities have often had negative experiences in health settings, and this can cause distrust. 

“I have always found the radiographers extremely professional and gentle. They ask what I am capable of, in terms of how long I can maintain a position for. It’s delicate balance of getting the images needed for the breast screen, and understanding I may not be able to hold positions for a long time with my disability. 

“There is a bar on the machine I can hold onto to enable me to steady myself. I remain seated in my wheelchair during the screen, which feels discreet and professional.” 

Annie joined the BreastScreen Victoria Consumer Network to advocate for the importance of breast screening, and also offer her firsthand experience of disability to improve our services. The Consumer Network helps us to listen to, and then respond to the needs of our clients and consumers. 

“Two incredible women close to me had breast cancer, and I saw the very different outcome from having access to breast screening and early detection.” 

Annie urges other women with disabilities to get screened. 

“I want to use my voice to encourage them to get their breast screen, and feel safe in knowing that even if you're limited in mobility or movement and you can still go and get it done. 

“I would say to not to be afraid of having a screen. The more proactive we are with our health, the easier it is the deal with your primary health condition or disability.”