Did you know that there are estimated to be over 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability? Did you also know that you have a duty under the Equality Act (2010) to ensure that people with learning disabilities are not placed at substantial disadvantage when accessing your services?
Failure to do so means you are likely breaking the law.
This is true regardless of whether people pay to access your service or not. It is clear under the Equality Act (2010) that this is an anticipatory duty. This means that you shouldn’t wait until someone asks you to make your service accessible to them. Therefore, you must show that the difficulties disabled people may face have been considered and you have provided ways for these difficulties to be mitigated. These changes so that people with learning disabilities are not disadvantaged are called reasonable adjustments.
See below for 5 tips on how to make your services accessible to people with learning disabilities.
Involve disabled people with identifying what the barriers to accessing your services are:
Set up a user group or work in collaboration with a user-led disability charity. Ask disabled people to audit your services and find where the difficulties are likely to be. Your policies and practices should be carefully considered to show you are anticipating the needs of disabled people. People with lived experience can offer unique and in-depth insights.
Ensure your website is accessible
Websites and pages designed with accessibility in mind are good for everyone. Simple strategies can make an enormous difference. A few examples include:
- Standardise navigation controls and make sure they are consistent.
- Avoid lengthy scrolling and provide links to more content
- Make sure there is plenty of white space and the pages are not too cluttered.
- Don’t use auto-play on videos. Videos can be really distracting and make it harder for someone to read the information on the page.
- Use descriptive error messages. If someone fills out your form incorrectly give detailed information about what they have done wrong.
Check your website meets the WCAG 2.1 success criteria at a minimum of level AA.
Review the information you provide to people
Think about the information you give people. This could be booking terms and conditions, cancellation policies, information on what they can expect and so on. How accessible and easy to read is this information? What have you done to try and make it easier for people with learning disabilities? To find out more check out our free resources.
Ask about Access Requirements
Make sure you ask everyone accessing your services if they have any access requirements. Or give them examples of some of the adjustments you routinely make. It sounds obvious, but it’s a point that people often forget. Any access information can be easily found on your website and supply clear contact details so that someone can contact you easily if they have a question about access.
Ensure that your staff have had disability awareness training
Don’t let the natural fear factor that people have surrounding disability add to the difficulty disabled people have accessing your services. Staff often worry that they will say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, offend and/or patronise disabled people. This makes communication about access requirements uncomfortable for all involved. It’s important that staff have disability awareness training to help ease those worries. It will equip staff with the knowledge and skills to effectively provide reasonable adjustments for disabled people.