18th – 24th June 2018 #LearningDisabilityWeek
In the UK approximately 1.5 million people have a learning disability. Of which, 9 out of 10 have been a victim of hate crime and bullying. I’ll just let that sink in a minute.
According to Mencap’s definition, a learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life. The level of support needed by individuals with a learning disability will vary greatly of course, but with the right level of support most people with a learning disability in the UK can lead independent lives.
Employment has been a key focus recently. Around 8 in 10 working age people with a learning disability have a form that is mild to moderate, but fewer than 2 in 10 are in employment. Mencap want this to change and are campaigning hard to make that happen. There’s a very useful series of guides for employers in their link: https://www.mencap.org.uk/get-involved/learning-disability-week-2017
This year the focus is on the Treat Me Well Campaign where the aim is to transform how the NHS treats people with a learning disability in hospital.
Mencap have a great resource including fundraising ideas and packs, and how to get involved in events around the country: https://www.mencap.org.uk/get-involved/fundraise-mencap
Why not use Learning Disability Awareness week to open your doors and welcome visitors to a Familiarisation Event. It’s a great way to allow people to have a look around your venue, and see all the facilities and services you have on offer but in a quieter and less busy environment. Some people with a learning disability may find it very daunting to come to you during a busy performance, event, or general opening time. Things like noise, light and crowds may all make it a very anxious experience for some people. By offering a specific event for people to come along to, you can control the environment and reduce or remove the things that may cause some people problems.
Schedule your first Relaxed performance or event. These performances are designed to be more welcoming to people who might benefit from a more relaxed and adapted environment. The event or performance is adapted to remove some of the more stressful elements, such as loud noises and bangs, and bright or strobe lighting effects. The audience are free to move around in the space or auditorium too, and there is a relaxed attitude to noise. Chill-out or calm spaces are provide so that people can reduce stress levels easily if they need to.
Create a Visual or Social story in time for the awareness week and promote the fact these are now available. The guides can assist your visitors who a learning disability to better understand what your building is like and what they will be expected to do when they visit you. There are some great examples online.
Over 100,000 children and adults with a learning disability use Makaton to aid communication. Why not take the opportunity to provide some Makaton training for your front line staff during the awareness week: https://www.makaton.org/aboutMakaton/