Disability Equality Training: Improving Practice and The Experience of Disabled Clients

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It is important to be mindful that 3.7 million people or 19% of working adults in the UK are disabled and are likely at some time in their lives need to use legal services. In practice, however, research suggests that disabled people face significant barristers accessing legal services. These include accessibility of written and digital information on firms’ websites and social media channels, interaction with legal professionals who can often seem unapproachable, as well as the physical layout and design of offices and meeting rooms.

Potentially, one of the most significant barriers disabled people face in accessing legal services, however, are inaccurate assumptions and negative attitudes. These attitudes can be incredibly damaging as they are often indicative of a fundamental failure to understand disability and the specific needs of disabled clients. This is further compounded by the fact that negative perceptions are often very entrenched and as a result, are quite difficult to change.

In practice, attending bespoke disability equality training is a relatively inexpensive way to enable legal professionals to reflect on and meaningfully change their negative perceptions and misconceptions of disability. By accessing disability equality training legal practitioners can greatly enhance the quality of their client care through the provision of a more inclusive service. In this context we are defining “inclusive” in the context of the British Standards Institution publication BS 18477-2010 – “availability, usability and accessibility of a service to all consumers equally, regardless of their personal circumstances”. It moves away from the idea that equal opportunities mean treating everyone the same when in fact it involves treating everyone fairly.

Law firms needs practitioners who can better understand and meet the needs of their disabled clients. Staff who adopt more inclusive working practices in their day-to-day interaction with clients provide better service, improve client retention, generate new business and broaden their firm’s appeal in an ever-competitive market.

This interactive and thought-provoking course is intended to be a soft-skills session to develop reflective practice as a way of improving legal professionals’ engagement with disabled clients.

Delegates will:

  • Have opportunity to reflect on their own values, beliefs and attitudes in relation to disability.
  • Understand the difference between diversity and inclusion.
  • Gain a working knowledge of the social and medical models of disability and the core values and beliefs which underpin them.
  • Understand the difference between the social and medical models.
  • Analyse how language can unintentionally reinforce stereotypes and negative perceptions of disabled people.
  • Learn practical ways to improve their day-to-day interaction with disabled clients.

Extensive notes will be provided and time will be allocated for delegate questions at all webinars.