Approximately 8% of children in the UK are living with a disability, and although big strides have been made in key areas, there are many others in which children can benefit from the advocacy of their parents and loved ones. For instance, it is known that only 46.3% of working-age people with disabilities are employed, compared to over 76% of those without disabilities. Employment, education, and independent living are other key areas that require advocacy if major improvements are to be made. They may also qualify for disability benefits which can be very helpful.
Advocating for Employment
For some people with disabilities, employment rates are particularly low. For instance, the Office for National Statistics reports that only 21.7% of people with autism are employed. Accessibility in offices involves much more than optimal office design. It also requires changing recruitment processes, making evidence-based adjustments, and fostering work cultures that enable people to freely disclose their disabilities. Greater demands need to be placed on the government to support research and initiatives that will improve the situation for people with disabilities in the workplace.
Supporting Inclusive Companies
Companies wishing to improve their diversity and inclusivity should invest in hiring managers who are true inclusion leaders. Very few companies in the UK currency provide job counselling, training, and work experience for employees with disabilities and it is up to support the companies that do by giving them their business. Some of the most renowned disability-friendly employers in the UK include Allianz, Lloyds Banking Group, Aviva, and Unilever. Parents who are entrepreneurs or work in business should highlight the achievements being made by these companies and push for greater inclusivity via networking, social media, and traditional media.
Advocating at School
Children with disabilities have the right to demand that schools make reasonable adjustments, which can include changes to the physical features of a building, changes to assessment methods, and the provision of support and aids. According to research published by The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), however, both Ofsted and local authorities are often failing to monitor schools’ accessibility efforts. Parents have the right to demand that schools have clear accessibility plans which set out educational and structural improvements. For instance, for a child with a motor disability like cerebral palsy wheelchair access is key. If your school does not have adequate ramps and other features that can be considered reasonable, you have the right to ask them to make the required changes. You can also ask your child’s school to provide extra aids or services if needed.
Finding Suitable Accommodation
It is important to find out all the grants and other forms of aid your child may be entitled to so they can live comfortably when they are adults. Currently, adults with disabilities can obtain grants for their council if they need to make changes to their home such as widening doors, building ramps, providing a heating system, adapting lighting or heating controls, installing stairlifts, and similar. They can also apply for council housing if they are eligible, and obtain financial help if they wish to rent a property (help can be provided for rent deposits, bonds, and guarantee schemes).
Being an advocate for your child involves researching and approaching both private and government organizations so that important needs can be met. Currently, much still needs to be done in terms of accessible employment and schooling. Accommodation is also largely a matter for parents to prepare financially for but there are a select number of grants and aids that help people with disabilities access housing or make necessary accommodations to their home.
Last Updated on August 11, 2023 by Lucy Clarke