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Calls for enhanced disability training to tackle negative attitudes

Nearly a fifth of Brits do not feel confident working alongside a disabled colleague, new research has revealed. 

The survey of 2,046 adults, commissioned by the Disability Matters Consortium , found that over 80% believe there should be more training in the workplace to ensure employees feel confident about working with disabled people. 

The study also highlighted that a quarter of Brits do not feel confident communicating with disabled children – with younger people considerably less confident than those over 65. And more than a fifth say they feel awkward when they meet a disabled person. 

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The UK cannot claim to be an equal society as long as a quarter of Britons do not feel confident communicating with disabled children and young people. 

To help tackle the issue, a free e-portal, Disability Matters, has been launched to challenge and positively change attitudes amongst the UK workforce. 

“What this poll shows is that it is everyone’s responsibility to create a society where disabled people are truly equal. By creating Disability Matters, health care workers are leading the way, using their expertise to challenge negative attitudes,” said Dr Carter. 

He added that the site uses the experiences of disabled children, and the health care staff who work with them, to improve confidence and knowledge around disability, which is the only way to ensure disabled children and young people are treated as equals in every aspect of their lives. 

A consortium of experts, led by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the British Academy of Childhood Disability, Contact a Family and Council for Disabled Children, launched the DH-funded Disability Matters website. 

Dr Karen Horridge, clinical lead for the Disability Matters 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.” 

She added that there is still a long way to go before Britain can say it is 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.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Chris   10/02/2015 at 21:31

I welcome any attempt to improve disability training of course, but sometimes I wish that people would just look around them and see all the barriers that exist. Then maybe they could actually work to remove them instead of writing more well-intentioned articles.

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