Talking about disability

We were delighted to be awarded funding from the City Bridge Trust Cornerstone Fund in April 2022 to help us find better ways of talking about disability. Since then, we have carried out research to explore the attitudes that people have towards disability and are now creating new ways of talking about ourselves and our organisations. Our aim is to help change the way people think about disability so that more people feel motivated to help make society more inclusive and accessible. We also want disabled and non-disabled people to know more about Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) and our role in helping create more equal communities. 


With joint lead partners Inclusion London we are currently using these funds to work with consultants, Equally Ours, and six other DDPO project partners: Action on Disability; Camden Disability Action; Choice in Hackney; Merton Centre Independent Living; REAL and RUILS to create new ways of talking about disability. We call this message re-framing. 

“This is a great opportunity for DDPOs to harness the power of strategic communications approaches to connect with new audiences and build awareness and support for disabled people’s equality and inclusion”.

          Tracey Lazard, CEO, Inclusion London. 

“Understanding how people currently think about these issues is fascinating, and it will help us create messaging which gets more people interested in disability rights”

          Caroline Collier, CEO, Inclusion Barnet.

Be part of the movement

Download the guide on Inclusion London’s website. Available in PDF, audio, Easy Read and BSL formats.

The issue 

Since the cost-of-living crisis, we have started to see more stories in the media talking about disabled people either being lazy (skiving) or superheroes (striving).  This is worrying as it is how newspapers, government and people in power used to talk about disabled people back in the beginning of austerity. This way of talking about disability encourages people to think of disabled people in a very restricted way, mentally separating us into either deserving or not deserving. This messaging helps to justify discriminatory policies and practices in people’s hearts and minds. It is unhelpful to disabled people and stops us from making progress towards equality. 

There are lots of people who feel uncomfortable with this idea when they are given the opportunity to really think about it. In fact, about 40% of the public feel conflicted in this way. However, as DDPOs we often don’t know how to reach out and communicate with this 40% of the public, who could support us but currently don’t.  

By creating new clear and impactful disability equality messages that connect with this 40% of the public we can more effectively challenge current negative narratives about disabled people and disability and build our support. The more DDPOs and their members start to use these new ways of talking about disability, the more chance we have to influence how the public, and therefore also policymakers and decision makers think about disability. We can help them understand that it is the way that policies, services, and systems are designed in society and people’s attitudes that exclude us, often more so than our impariment or condition itself. 

Our approach

It is crucial that our new ways of talking about disability engages and persuades the public who we are currently not reaching. It must help shift opinions to create a more inclusive and equal society.  

We know that new ways of talking about a subject, known as message reframing, can be a powerful strategy to achieve this. Especially if it is joined up and coordinated across many organisations using the same messages. So, we are creating new messages, metaphors and descriptions that helps shift hearts and minds of the public,  

Working with our lead partner, Inclusion London, and Equally Ours, and our six DDPO project partners we have explored and researched current thinking and tested new messages on over 3,000 members of the public to find out what works best.  

From autumn 2023 and across 2024 we will be developing and sharing new tools, guidance, resources, and free training to DDPOs to help you improve the way your DDPO communicates.  

Tool kit and resources

Be part of the movement

Download the guide on Inclusion London’s websiteAvailable in PDF, audio, Easy Read and BSL formats.

Join our Community of Practice

Our Community of Practise network is co-host by Inclusion Barnet and Inclusion London. If you are from a London-based DDPO and comms forms a part of your role, at any level of the organisation, we’d love for you to join us. Find out more on Inclusion London’s website.

Our Partners

With joint lead partners Inclusion London we are currently using these funds to work with consultants, Equally Ours.

Inclusion London logo
Equally Ours logo

Our six DDPO project partners

Choice in Hackney logo
action on disability logo

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