Mencap 180x120While there is increased education in schools on learning disabilities more work still needs to be done to reduce stigma, new analysis into public attitudes towards people with learning disabilities has suggested.

The report by Mencap and University College London (UCL) found that a number of methods have been successful in improving attitudes and these should be introduced for people with learning disabilities.

These include:
• An increase in direct contact with people with learning disabilities
• Greater indirect contact via the positive media portrayals of learning disabilities
• Fighting for the rights of people with learning disabilities to have equal participation in education, employment, social and leisure pursuits
• Education at an early age in schools on learning disabilities.

Author Dr Katrina Scior of UCL said: "Our understanding how to effectively challenge negative attitudes and behaviour towards children and adults with a learning disability is very poor. This paper brings together research from a wide range of sources, painting a clear picture of what we know about how to change attitudes in this field.

"We know that increasing positive media portrayals of learning disability, increased direct contact and a greater focus on inclusive activities for children and young people will help bring about more positive attitudes in the general public. I hope that this report will act as a wake-up call to alert people to where we are, what we know and – crucially – what more we need to find out and do to effectively change attitudes to learning disability."

‘Changing attitudes to learning disability: A review of the evidence’ analyses what attitudes exist towards people with learning disabilities, how negative attitudes are having a harmful effect on people’s lives and points to key actions that can be implemented which will improve how society treats people with learning disabilities.
Mencap worked with UCL to produce the report in order to better understand existing attitudes around learning disabilities so the charity can attempt to challenge them in the coming years.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, said: "There’s a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to learning disability and this new report explains the harmful effects this is having to the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. In order to change this we need to highlight what attitudes are held and how we can effectively change them.

"This report is an important moment for anyone connected to learning disability, as we now have a full and thorough analysis of what works and what doesn’t, which will provide a useful foundation to inform the sector’s future work on changing attitudes and ensure that people with a learning disability are able to live fulfilling lives."

Download the full report at www.mencap.org.uk/changing attitudes-learning-disability-report