What happens when people with learning disabilities need advice about the law?
- Funder: Legal Services Board, Legal Services Consumer Panel and Mencap
- Lead applicant: Dr Paul Swift
- Co-researchers: Professor Kelley Johnson, Dr Sue Porter, Victoria Mason and Nour Shiyyab
- Research Centre: Norah Fry Research Centre
This research aimed to:
- Identify barriers and positive experiences of people with learning disabilities and their families/carers who have used legal services;
- Identify barriers which may have prevented people with learning disabilities and their families/carers who needed but did not use legal services
- Identify good and bad practices in working with people with learning disabilities by services which provide legal advice.
Eighteen focus groups with 90 people with learning disabilities, 26 interviews with family carers and 9 interviews with legal services professionals where carried out.
The research found that very few people with learning disabilities knew what legal services were or could be used for, they therefore seldom initiated contact with legal services by themselves. Family carers used legal services to secure their disabled relatives futures, but they only used services recommended by other family carers via online Forums.
These findings confirm that access to legal services for people with learning disabilities remains problematic. The study adds detail and depth to our understanding of the barriers that they face and provides potential solutions.