Claire’s Enhance the UK Update

By June 22, 2015Business, Disability
Claire Holland Head of Training

I apologise that it may seem like I have fallen off the face of the earth as it’s been quite some time since I have written my last blog and you may be forgiven for thinking that I have been slacking but the truth is it has been an extremely busy time for Enhance the UK and I simply haven’t had time.

As it stands I am taking a well deserved rest from cleaning on my Sunday morning to share with you all the exciting things that are going on. Funnily enough writing a blog will win hands down over cleaning the bathroom any day of the week!

Well, where to start? We have delivered some great disability and communication training sessions recently at various venues. I am extremely proud of these sessions as I know they are already making such a difference. Staff at Queen Mary’s University reported an increased confidence in communicating with and awareness of barriers that students who have disabilities may face. This can only improve the experience that students have at the university. A newly opened hotel in Colchester are committed to being fully accessible and have realised that this will not happen with physical adjustments alone (although we were able to pick up on a few issues that their architect hadn’t been aware of and help them to put these right) but also with the attitude of staff.

We have helped an organisation to think about ways in which they can make literacy festivals accessible to disabled children and also how they can recruit disabled artists to take part. Being a book worm I am especially excited about this. We have also worked with volunteers and staff of the Big Lunch Extra Eden project to think about ways in which they can make their activities more accessible and am pleased to hear that they are already acting upon all the feedback we have offered. These are just a few of the organisations we have supported recently. Whilst I would like to wave a magic wand and change everyone’s perception of disability I am aware that this simply isn’t going to happen. I take comfort from the fact that we at Enhance the UK are changing perceptions one organisation at a time.

I have had the opportunity to return to a school that we have trained in before and deliver more disability awareness sessions to children between the ages of five and 11. I love these days, although to say they are hard work is an understatement. One little girl made me smile. When asked how I woke up in the morning , she responded sad – bless her. We had a long chat about the fact that I am not sad that I am deaf at all. These kind of conversations with children are essential to change their attitudes towards disabilities.

We launched our new one day introduction to BSL and Communication tactics course at the National Gallery a few weeks ago. All of the staff who attended were keen to practise their new found skills and I am sure will make Deaf members of the public feel very welcome and will be able to communicate with them much easier. The fantastic feedback we received from this can be seen here. This course is something that we are keen to encourage other organisations to send staff on if they are unable to commit to more intense training.

We have also been talking to companies about making their websites accessible to Deaf BSL users and are pleased to say that we have worked with one company to make their website accessible (details will follow once they have launched it) and are talking to several more. This is an area we feel very passionate about and are constantly working on.

We have filmed the first part of our Undressing Disability film to raise awareness of the importance of disabled people not being desexualised and having access to appropriate sexual health advice and sex education. We have more to do before it can be launched but I have every faith that the film is going to be fantastic! The day itself was really special. I have never had the pleasure to spend the day with such a lovely group of people. Many involved had not met each other before and yet the support they gave each other was amazing. Everyone managed to make me feel comfortable stripping off to my underwear and anyone who knows me will know that that is no mean feat. We also have some very exciting projects lined up that will be launched at the same time as the film as part of our Undressing Disability campaign. I literally can’t wait!

We have also been working closely with Scope on their End the Awkward Campaign and looking into developing partnerships with other organisations. All of this work has been conducted at the same time as the day to day running of the charity as well as spending lots of time looking for funding for some exciting projects that we have in the pipeline. All I can say on that matter at the moment is watch this space.

Wow, simply writing this blog has made me realise just how much we have managed to accomplish over the last few months. I have every faith that we will continue to change the perception of disability over the upcoming months as we at Enhance the UK are not the type of people to sit on our laurels. Now I really must get back to cleaning that bathroom, but I promise I won’t leave it as long for the next update!

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