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Calls for enhanced disability training as quarter of Brits lack confidence communicating with disabled kids

Disability experts are calling on UK employers to support their workforce to be disability aware as a recent poll finds that a quarter of British adults are not confident communicating with .

Commissioned by the – a group of national organisations specialising in disability who are working together with disabled young people and parent carers – the survey of 2,046 adults found that just 5% of the adult population choose ‘confident’ as a top 3 term that describes how they feel when they meet a and 82% say there should be more training in the workplace to ensure employees feel confident about working with .

The poll also found that younger people are much less confident than the older generation about communicating with disabled people, with 28% of 18-24 year olds saying they would not be confident communicating with a disabled child in comparison to just 19% of over 65s. Overall, this age group (18-24) is much less confident towards issues surrounding disability as:

  • Whereas 14% of 18-24 year olds don’t know whether disabled children should be given the same opportunities to take part in sports and leisure activities as those who are not disabled, only 4% of those aged 65+ say that they don’t know
  • Nearly 1 in 5 don’t feel confident working alongside a disabled colleague (vs 1 in 20 65+)
  • 16% don’t know whether they would feel confident communicating with a disabled child (vs 5% 65+)
  • 27% wouldn’t feel confident speaking to the parents of a child who they think might be disabled (vs 18% 65+)

Dr Karen Horridge, Clinical Lead for the Programme and fellow of the (RCPCH) said:

“Much needs to be done and can be done to improve everyone’s attitudes and confidence around disabled people of all ages. Disabled people – there are 11.6 million in the UK – have equal rights to make their own choices, to take part in everyday activities, go to school, work, travel about and access services, the same as anyone else.

“However, at the moment there are lots of challenges and barriers in our society that result in them being excluded. Worse than that, significant numbers are abused, tormented and ridiculed and many die prematurely because services do not value them enough and lack the competence and confidence to treat them equally.”

A consortium of experts, led by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and including British Academy of Childhood Disability, Contact a Family and Council for Disabled Children, have today launched ‘Disability Matters’ – a website, funded by the Department of Health, providing engaging e-learning resources that enable employees to reflect, challenge and positively change their own fears, ideas, attitudes and beliefs towards disability.

Dr Horridge continues:

“There is still a long way to go before we can stand up in Britain and say that we are an equal society, where disabled people are valued, respected and warmly welcomed as equals.

“Disability Matters will help everyone to reflect on their own attitudes and to improve their communication and problem-solving skills around the challenges and barriers that disabled people and their families face in their lives.

“There is so much that must and can be done. Positive, “can do” attitudes can make the world of difference and cost nothing so we now strongly encourage organisations, services and businesses to use these sessions to design additional training for their workforces and volunteers – by doing so, we can begin to bring attitudes towards disability out of the dark ages and give all disabled people the same opportunities as everybody else.”

More information can be found at http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/disability-matters.


Source: Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health