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2 Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs)

Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) are incredibly diverse, exist for a range of purposes, in a variety of sizes and work in very different ways. Some DPOs operate at a national or regional level, while others are local grassroots groups.

Recently the term Disabled Persons User-Led Organisation (DPULO) has been used by the Office for Disability Issues and others. This term is interchangeable with DPO. DPOs often share the following characteristics:
  • They typically have their origins in the UK disability rights movement, with values rooted in the social model of disability.
  • They are typically pan-impairment, in line with the core ideas of the social model of disability – so they work to remove disabling barriers for all disabled people in society, not just one impairment group.
  • They are usually defined by having a majority of disabled people in charge of the running and governance of the organisation (so DPOs are also known as “of” as opposed to “for” disability organisations) and importantly they have a high proportion of disabled people in leadership and influencing roles.
  • Many local DPOs combine a campaigning or policy influencing role with a service delivery function.
  • Grassroots DPOs generally have a strong local presence including ties with disabled people, public bodies, businesses and other allies who support the rights of disabled people.

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