Made at UCL


Tackling stigma associated with learning disabilities

A team of UCL researchers is addressing the stigma attached to learning disability and developing new ways to challenge negative behaviour and attitudes.

Work out

Around 2% of the population in the UK have a learning disability. There are many causes of learning disabilities, including Down’s syndrome and some people with autism also have a learning disability.

People affected by learning disabilities often face negative attitudes and behaviours from others, as do their carers or relations. Barriers to employment are a common issue, with only 7% of adults with learning disabilities in paid work. They can also experience exclusion from education and social activities. 

So how do we change these attitudes?

A team of researchers at UCL led by Dr Katrina Scior, a specialist in learning disabilities, are finding out by investigating what discrimination people with learning disabilities face around the world and what local governments and other organisations are doing to help.

They presented their research to the United Nations, which helped raise awareness of the issues and paved the way for the first individual with a learning disability to secure a place on the United Nations Committee. 

The work carried out at the UCL Unit for Stigma Research (UCLUS) aims to address the stigma people with learning disabilities and the attitudes, views and beliefs held about them by different groups within a multicultural society.

Katrina’s team discovered that the best way to break down barriers and improve attitudes is to have personal contact with people who have learning disabilities. They are also working with charities such as Mencap and Special Olympics International to improve perceptions in the media.

The team work closely with advocacy and advice organisations and policy makers around the world to develop policies that give those with learning disabilities equal rights and respect. 



  • Credit: Nathan Anderson, Source: Unsplash