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10 things to help you comply with the Disability Equality Duty when you undertake research and consultations (05 Jun 09)

Make sure you include - and donít exclude - disabled people from your research and consultation projects

We recently ran our new course How to ensure your research and consultations include disabled people.

Delegates rated the day highly so I asked Graham Kelly the trainer to put together some key tips to summarise the day for you. I hope you find them useful.

Before we look at them remember that The Disability Equality Duty obliges all public sector organisations to make sure that disabled people are included and their views listened to.

And in case you didnít know over one in five of the UK population has a disability, as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act, and this population is growing as society ages.

If you have some thoughts on the subject which you would like to share please do add them to the discussion at the end of the article on the website.

Here are Grahamís key tips:

1. Bear in mind that the disabled population is very large and diverse and is growing rapidly as society ages

The exact size of the disabled population depends on the definition you use, but always bear in mind that it contains people from all social classes, ethnic groups, ages and social and political viewpoints. Your research and consultation projects should try to reflect this diversity.

2. Remember that disabled people will often face issues that others don't, so it's important to explore what these are before deciding the exact focus of your research

All too often issues around whether disabled people are being included in research projects focus on the data collection stage. Itís probably more important to think about how to involve disabled people in framing the research or consultation questions to start with.

This means that you shouldnít write a questionnaire until you have done this, as it might not reflect the concerns of people who are disabled.

3. Having impairment does not in itself preclude participation.

 Real barriers to participation tend to be peopleís attitudes to disabled people and the physical environment they live in. These reduce the chances of disabled people being included, and of being able to make a full contribution.

These need to be thought through and planned around by the researcher.

4. Conventional research methods will reach the majority of disabled people, but think about the specific minorities that it will not reach

 Disabled people are less likely to work, so more likely to be contactable, but unless we are aware of the pitfalls, some groups are at risk of exclusion or under representation

5. Always offer a number of different ways of contributing to your research or consultation

Written communication can exclude visually impaired people, so think about offering a telephone-based alternative. Conventional questionnaires can exclude people with learning difficulties, so think about tailoring the questions and response mechanisms for this group.

6. Have regular breaks in meetings and discussion groups

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Comment by Annie Isos Housing Group ó 27 Aug 09 at 11:59:53

Interesting comment from Sarah. This is just the type of information that I find is the hardest to put over to colleagues. I don't think everyone does understand these things; they certainly don't always incorporate the approaches into day-do-day working and it all comes back to getting the main message across regarding any section of the population. I would agree with Graham when he says the real barriers are other people's attitudes towards disabled people.

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