Coronavirus: information and updates

Independence

The quick read

  • 2.5 million people accessed our information, advice and support, assisting them to make informed decisions and live more independent lives.
  • 29,365 peopled called our helpline and almost all of them said they would use it again.
  • 1,292,906 people visited our online community.
  • 7 out of 12 streaming services improved their accessibility for disabled customers following a campaign we launched in June.

Barriers to independence

If we want everyday equality to be a reality for disabled people, we need to change attitudes and make physical and online spaces accessible. Disabled people need to have more influence over their lives so they can live independently and fulfil personal aspirations.

1 in 3 disabled people feel there’s still a lot of disability prejudice (Disability perception gap, Scope 2018).

Too many products and services are still not designed with disabled people in mind. And less than 2 per cent of websites meet legal accessibility standards (The WebAIM Million, 2019).

This is despite the ‘purple pound’ (the spending power of disabled families) being estimated at £274 billion a year (Scope’s analysis based on Household Below Average Income, 2017 to 18).

We want to see attitudes and behaviour towards disabled people improve – and we won’t stop until we live in an equal and accessible society.

Osayuki’s story

Osayuki is a fourth-year pharmacy student who worked part-time at a pharmacy until February 2021, due to her upcoming final year exams. She’s a double amputee above the knee and uses prosthetic legs. She is also a wheelchair user. She graduated from our Scope for Change programme training the next generation of young disabled campaigners in February 2020. Since then, she has been campaigning for more accessible transport – especially for disabled key workers during the pandemic and lockdown.

“I graduated from the Scope for Change programme at the end of February. My campaign was for disabled access in workplaces, especially step free access and disabled toilets. Also, for better attitudes towards disabled employees. I worked part-time at a pharmacy and I was denied ramp assistance at various train stations on my commute to work during the lockdown last year. The coronavirus restrictions affected my commute to and from work.

However, my campaign led the Minister of State for Transport to write an open letter to the rail companies about accessibility for disabled passengers during the lockdown. This is a great success! The assistance on my commute improved greatly. Also, I have noticed that the train companies take complaints more seriously now since my campaign, which is good.”

Supporting disabled people to be more independent

Last year, we provided 2,520,332 people with some of the essential support they needed to make informed decisions and live more independent lives. We answered 29,365 calls to our helpline, reached 1,283,026 people with our online information and advice, and connected with 1,292,906 people as part of our online community.

Helpline

Three-quarters of people who spoke to our helpline rated our service as better than other sources of information. And almost all of them (96%) said they would use it again.

Online information and advice

Of those using our online information and advice, 73% found it useful and 39% felt it made a positive difference for them. Of our online community members, 45% found a solution to their problem when posting in the community and over half (52%) rated it as better than other sources of information.

Community engagement

We ran our community engagement programme in 5 locations across England, with funding from the People’s Health Trust. The programme aimed to empower disabled people to take action and create positive change in their local communities. In 2020/21, we helped fund and support 78 projects, ranging from delivering care packages to increasing access to open spaces, to facilitating online classes on yoga, dancing, comedy and meditation.

The Big Hack

The Big Hack is our digital influencing programme. Working with businesses and organisations, the Big Hack aims to make sure websites, apps and online services are accessible to everyone.

Since the first lockdown, our Big Hack resource hub has seen a 968% increase in usage, with more than 75,000 people accessing it to learn how to make their digital products more accessible.

In June, we launched a campaign to improve the accessibility of online streaming services, highlighting good and poor practice. As a result, 7 out of 12 platforms made accessibility improvements, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Prime Video, benefitting disabled consumers.

Since the Big Hack streaming campaign, there’s been a noticeable change for the better in the screen reader accessibility of Prime Video across the board, and in Amazon’s screen reader accessibility in general.

Ashley Cox, screen reader user

Spotlight on Thrive

Thrive is our training and employment partnership with UnLtd, an organisation that funds and supports social entrepreneurs. We worked with social entrepreneurs who are either disabled, or directly support disabled people to get into work as part of their business. Since 2018, Thrive has helped fund and support 53 social ventures.

One of these ventures, Beautifully Made Foundation CIC, is a social enterprise that designs, makes and sells their own range of clothing, accessories and giftware. Founded by Anita Brett in 2006, they have a small chain of shops and workspaces across the UK, offering long-term employment to disabled people. They work with local charities and organisations who refer disabled people to their 6-month paid traineeship. So far, 20 people have completed their training, with 85% staying on as employees

Putting disabled people at the heart of what we do

Disabled people and their families’ experiences are key to everything we do.

Storytellers

We now have 80 storytellers who feel confident sharing their stories to support our fundraising, campaigning, press work and events. In the last year alone, 15 of our storytellers were featured in regional and national media.

Research panel

We’ve grown our research panel to include almost 900 disabled people and parents and carers of disabled children. The panel helps us gather insights and develop new products and services, making sure they meet disabled people’s needs. This includes feedback on how to make fundraising events accessible, what specific services should do, and researching and testing content for our online information and advice pages. Last year, hundreds of panellists also reported on the issues they were facing during the first lockdown, informing our wider response to the pandemic.

Around 160 panellists took part in consultancy projects, including providing a disability perspective to energy companies and other charities, and improving a TV advert.

Co-production

Our aim is to make ‘co-production’ with disabled people an integral part of everything we do. For us, co-production means disabled people and their families will work in equal partnership with us to develop our services.

In 2020, we published our first coproduced evaluation for our Support to Work service. We worked with disabled people as co-evaluators and peer reviewers at every stage of the process. This meant our analysis and recommendations truly reflected disabled people’s experience. Co-producing our evaluations and making them publicly available is something we’ll continue to do.

To be asked to help design something from the very beginning is a powerful thing. To know that just once, I won’t have to be frustrated, disappointed, or misunderstood is liberating. That is so rare and it needs to happen a lot more so that it becomes commonplace.

Ruth Murran, Support to Work co-evaluator

Scope for Change

We continue to support disabled people to campaign for the change they want to see. Unfortunately, we had to pause our Scope for Change programme for young campaigners in 2020 due to the pandemic. But we published a campaigning guide, giving disabled people the information they need to learn how to set up and run their own campaigns on issues which matter to them. Around 1,000 people accessed the guide.

Volunteers

We also work with disabled volunteers across our shops and services, supporting them to build their confidence and experience.

What I’ve gotten out of working here is a lot more confidence – although I am confident anyway. That’s because when you’re there, nobody sees your disability, they just see you as a person. You start to believe that the things you thought you couldn’t do, you actually can do.

Jodie Murphy, shop volunteer in Leamington Spa
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