Press Release: Nearly half of young people want to learn more about disability at school

Research released 12th September by St Dunstan’s, the national charity providing lifelong support for visually impaired ex-Service men and women, has revealed that young people are keen to understand more about disability, with nearly half (43%) of 11 to 18 year olds saying that they would like to learn more about about the topic at school.

The survey conducted by Dubit on behalf of St Dunstan’s, showed that a greater percentage of girls (47%) than boys (39%) are interested in the subject of disability. Their desire to learn more may be because, as the survey also reveals, over three quarters of the 11 to 18 year olds questioned had never met a disabled person, with a third saying they would feel apprehensive or uncomfortable if they were to meet somebody with a disability.

In line with the interest expressed by young people, St Dunstan’s offers a nationwide interactive education programme aimed at challenging misconceptions and giving unique insight into the reality of living with visual impairment.

The St Dunstan’s Schools Education Programme, developed and written by teachers to link directly to the National Curriculum, assists teachers in educating young people about disability by offering pupils the opportunity to meet and engage with a St Dunstaner and learn firsthand about the realities of living with a disability.  Students at Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 are presented with a unique interactive lecture, delivered by a St Dunstaner, that fits within the science, history, citizenship or SEAL curriculum.

Catherine Hutchinson, St Dunstan’s Education Project Officer said:

“It is encouraging to hear that young people are so keen to find out more about the topic of disability, although we were concerned to see that so many of the 11 to 18 year olds we interviewed don’t actually know anybody who is disabled. The St Dunstan’s Schools Education Programme can help teachers to address this lack of contact, as it enables students to engage with people with visual impairments and other disabilities. We hope it will help to enhance their pupils’ understanding and acceptance of disability.”

Peter Farrington, Primary Headteacher of the Year in the South, said:

“I know from experience that when young people meet others with disabilities in their normal daily life, they very soon learn to understand and respect their strengths and the barriers they encounter. Therefore, initiatives like St Dunstan’s Schools Education Programme are very important in helping teachers to enhance understanding of disability among their pupils. The inspiring St Dunstaners that young people are able to meet through the programme can teach them understanding, compassion and instill a sense of respect for members of the community living with disabilities.”

The programme, which has been running for four years is free to schools and has received overwhelmingly positive responses from both students and teachers with many requesting return visits.

A pupil from East Hoathly School said:

“We thoroughly enjoyed the visit to our school. We all learned how to help someone with a disability and how hard it could be to be blind. I now appreciate what somebody who loses their sight goes through and I think the rest of my class does too.”

For further information please contact the Education Project Officer on 0207 616 7965, email or visit St Dunstan’s website:

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