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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

Training and awareness raising


What you need to know


Disability Action Plans - Staff training and awareness-raising

Disability Action Plans must describe a public authority’s arrangements for ensuring that those of its employees and officeholders who carry-out functions that are relevant to the Section 49A duty are aware of their obligations. Thus, the plan should set out arrangements for training those individuals, or for otherwise alerting them to their responsibilities.

The training and awareness-raising should focus on the aim of the Section 49A duty i.e. to oblige public authorities to think appropriately about taking positive action to improve the lives of disabled people. The training should also be practical in nature and include guidance on how to implement other aspects of the Section 49A duty; i.e. things like monitoring, consulting, reviewing and analysing data and information; considering and taking positive action.

In describing your arrangements in your plan, we recommend that you outline:

  • Who is responsible for ensuring that the arrangements are established or, where they are already established, maintained and implemented
  • Who will be trained on, or otherwise alerted to, the Section 49A duties
  • What are the content and formats (e.g. training, written guides, newsletters)
  • When will the arrangements be established, if they are not already in place, or if the arrangements are already in place, what are the timeframes for implementing them.

Examples of emerging good practice:

Northern Ireland Assembly

NI AssemblyMaria Bannon, Equality Manager, explains the work of the Northern Ireland Assembly in relation to their provision of training on the disability duties:

  • The Assembly’s disability training has focused on increasing staff awareness of disability issues including the disability duties
  • The aim of this training has been to promote positive attitudes towards disabled people. In particular, the Assembly has focused training on their ‘Front Line’ staff as they are the most likely to engage directly with the public
  • The training has focused specifically on the area of autism which is a priority consideration for the Assembly
  • To consolidate the Assembly’s work in relation to Autism, the Assembly appointed a number of autism champions whose role is to promote equality for people with autism within the wider context of the Assembly.  These champions assist service users with autism to gain an understanding of the Assembly’s work and play a positive role in publicising the Assembly’s commitment to equality of opportunity for disabled people.

The Business Services Organisation (BSO)

Business Services OrganisationThe BSO outlines how e-training provision is helping some health and social care organisations promote their equality duties. Sandra Rafferty, Equality Business Partner at BSO explains that:

  • The e-training programme assists health and social care organisations to train all of their staff on disability issues
  • One of the aims of the e-training is to promote a more positive attitude towards people with a disability
  • People with disabilities were actively involved in the development of the disability section of the training programme
  • In addition,  the training relates to the personal experiences of people with disabilities, in accessing health and social care services and employment
  • The training identifies negative assumptions that are commonly held about disabled people and challenges staff in a practical and evidence-based way
  • The training also explains health and social care organisations’ commitment to an inclusive workplace and looks at how specific services can be delivered to meet the needs of disabled customers
  • The training is regularly evaluated to ensure that it meets its core aims and objectives.

South West College

Tom BradyTom Bradley, Equality Officer at the South West College explains how the college works with disabled students as part of its commitment to the disability duties and its good relations duty:

  • To show its commitment to the disability duties and its Section 75 good relations duty, the College supported the development of a Good Relations team. The team consists of nine members with learning difficulties and other disabilities who are enrolled on a variety of courses in the College
  • During recent years the South West College have been providing staff and students with workshops highlighting equality legislation and the importance of inclusiveness and good relations. There has been a particular focus on the disability and section 75 duties and the Group has sought to combine the two in its training and wider work 
  • The work done by members of the team is part of the College's commitment to embedding diversity in College life and encouraging a culture of inclusiveness. The Group interacts with students and staff with a view to changing perceptions about disabled people and what they can achieve
  • The South West College find that this work is changing attitudes towards disabled students and disabled people more widely.  Stereotypical assumptions are being replaced by an understanding that disabled people can make a similar contribution to those without disabilities to the overall work of the college and how it is perceived in the wider community.
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