There are approximately 700,000 people with autism, and 1.5million with a learning disability, in the UK. Often overlooked, they face many injustices and exclusions across society – from opportunities in sports and the arts, to involvement in politics, and employment opportunities.
In response, not-for-profit support provider Dimensions launched the Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List, the UK’s first annual national listing recognising people with learning disabilities and autism who challenge stereotypes and entrenched social prejudices, to make communities better for themselves and others.
The List provides an opportunity to celebrate people with learning disabilities and autism, raise awareness of injustices they face, and increase positive sentiment by challenging public perceptions of what they’re capable of.
To achieve meaningful perception and behaviour change, the campaign focused on speaking with, not for, people with learning disabilities and autism.
Numerous creative methods made this possible; surveying people with learning disabilities and autism to capture their thoughts on the extent of exclusion, and desire for more involvement and representation in society; amplifying their voices through various written and broadcast channels; empowering them to engage with local media.
Launching on International Day of Disabled Persons, the Leaders’ List reached over 10million people through media coverage. Highlights included a double page in the Daily Express and a 15-minute live interview on BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show.
The launch inspired people with learning disabilities and autism, and the public and media admitted it changed their understanding of what’s possible when you have a learning disability or autism.