Research exposes lack of chances for disabled young people

Published on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 11:24
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Disabled young people are being denied the right to have a say in how local services, such as education, health and leisure are being developed and delivered, reveals new research released today.

The VIPER (Voice, Inclusion, Participation, Empowerment and Research) research, carried out by a group of 16 disabled young people, looked at their involvement in decision-making and the barriers that prevent them from having a say.

The young researchers worked in partnership with the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), The Children's Society, the Council for Disabled Children and the National Children's Bureau Research Centre.

Young disabled people are not having their say

Their findings highlight how disabled young people are systematically excluded from sharing their views on the services they rely on and use every day. This is despite numerous initiatives to promote their participation in local decision-making. Many of the young disabled people involved in the research feel local participation opportunities are, at best, tokenistic.

Rebecca, a young disabled VIPER researcher, said: 'If more services took account of young disabled people's views in decision making, we would have better and more effective services. Currently young disabled people are not having the opportunity to have their say and this needs to change.'

The young VIPER researchers have produced a set of recommendations for national government and local services. The aim is to challenge the current lack of support for disabled young people to participate in decision making.


  • To ensure that young disabled people's opinions are at the centre of developing and delivering local services, the recommendations include:
  • Giving disabled young people's participation a clear mandate in the Children and Families Bill, by placing it at the centre of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) reforms.
  • Involving disabled young people in decisions about services from the very beginning, not once decisions are already made.
  • Asking central government to promote how services can use existing laws and guidance to support disabled young people's participation. For example, the Equality Act Public Sector Equality Duty, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Tara Flood, Director of ALLFIE said: 'It is clear from the VIPER research findings that there is still some real resistance from service providers to listening to young disabled people in terms of what support they want. We hope the recommendations will persuade providers to see the value in including young disabled people in decision making.'

Source: ©Children's Society

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