It’s Learning Disability Week – the official theme being tackling myths and misperceptions around learning disability, and asking the question ‘What does learning disability mean to you?’
However, if I’m honest, this has left me in a bit of a quandary! I absolutely recognise the need to raise awareness of the issues faced by people with learning disabilities – and let’s face it, there are many of them! Poor health care, injustice, service cuts, hate crime….the list goes on. And if we want things to change, we need to make sure that we challenge ignorance and prejudice, in the social care system and in the wider population.
So we’ve been sharing a bit more about our co-trainers with disabilities this week (using #MeetTheTeam if you want to check it out!) The idea was that we could show the big wide world that there’s a lot more to them than their learning disability label!
But, (and here’s where I may well struggle with internal contradictions!) by using platforms such as Learning Disability Week and asking questions such as ‘What does learning disability mean to you?’, are we in danger of actually reinforcing the stereotypes? Are we still encouraging the view of people with learning disabilities as somehow different – a ‘separate entity’ from the rest of society?
Am I different?
I don’t have a learning disability, but am I really that different from my colleagues at the Smart Enterprise? Ok, some of them need a bit of help with reading, but trust me, I need help with maths! I don’t sign anywhere near as well as Tim, and I certainly can’t speak 2 languages like Christy! We all bring different skills to the team, and all those skills are valuable to the business.
I would challenge anyone to say that they don’t need help with anything in their lives – we all need a bit of support from time to time, and people with learning disabilities are no different. If we want a truly inclusive society, then surely we need to get away from the ‘them and us’ mentality – people are just people, with with talents, strengths, difficulties and weaknesses, whether or not they have a diagnosed learning disability.
‘What does learning disability mean to you?’
Well, if you’re asking me the question, the answer is probably ‘Not much!’ I know that some people with that label might need more help with certain things, but I also know that each person is an individual and you can’t make sweeping generalisations about anything! And in light of that, we’ll be introducing ALL the Smart Enterprise team this week, whether or not they have a diagnosed learning disability. After all, you might have some misperceptions about me too!
You can find out more about #LDWeek15 here