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

Disability_Matters_LogoFree e-portal launches to challenge and positively change attitudes amongst UK workforce as poll finds:

  • Only 5% of Brits choose ‘confident’ as a top 3 term that describes how they feel when they meet a disabled person
  • A quarter of Brits do not feel confident communicating with disabled children with younger people considerably less confident than those 65+
  • Over 1 in 5 people say they feel awkward when they meet a disabled person
  • 86% of Brits say if they had a disabled child, they would worry their child would find it harder to get a job

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 disabled children.

Commissioned by the Disability Matters Consortium – 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 disabled person and 82% say there should be more training in the workplace to ensure employees feel confident about working with disabled people.

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 Disability Matters Programme and fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (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.”

To find out more about the resource and how it can be tailored to meet the needs of your organisation, visit www.disabilitymatters.org.uk.

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