Supporting disabled children, young people and their families: consultation

Consultation on a public resource that will look to provide information across three pillars: rights and information, accessibility of support, and transitions.


This consultation document uses some words or phrases which might be unfamiliar, and others which have specific legal meanings. Below is a short explanation of some of the most important terms.

In the Equality Act 2010 a disability means a physical or a mental condition which has a substantial and long-term impact on a person’s ability to do ordinary day-to-day activities. Conditions like HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis, which can become more severe over time, are also covered, even if the person might currently be able to carry out normal day to day activities. Children and adults are protected as soon as they are diagnosed. The Equality Act also covers those who had a disability in the past.

The Social Model of disability views disability as the relationship between the individual and society. It creates a distinction between ‘impairment’, which refers to the functional limitations that a person faces due to a physical, sensory or cognitive impairment and ‘disability’, which refers to the barriers an individual may face in their daily life because society places a disadvantage upon them based on their impairment. This means that it sees the barriers created by society as the cause of disadvantage and exclusion, rather than the impairment itself. Based on this, the aim is to remove the barriers that isolate, exclude and so disable the individual.

Legally, additional support for learning and disability often overlap but are not defined as the same thing. An additional support need can arise for any reason and be short or long term. Additional support may be required to overcome needs arising from a learning environment; health or disability; family circumstances or social and emotional factors. For example, a bereavement in the family or a short period of illness is as much an additional support need as more long term needs such as cerebral palsy or autism. Looked After Children and Young People are also deemed to have additional support needs until they are assessed otherwise.

Families: The consultation document will refer to families rather than “parent” or “carer” as these terms may not capture the various caring relationships a child or young person might experience during their lifetime.

Support: The term support captures the “services” which are provided by a wide range of public bodies as well as the resources and opportunities available to assist disabled children, young people and their families via the third sector and other partners.

Rights-based Approach: This is an approach to creating policy and legislation which holds human rights at its core. It supports equality and inclusion. Using a rights-based approach empowers people to know and claim their rights and increases the ability of organisations, public bodies and businesses to fulfil their human rights obligations.

Co-production means working with people to shape the services they use in order to better meet their needs.

Duty: A ‘duty’ is an action that someone must carry out, either legally (because it is the law) or morally (because it is the right thing to do). In this resource, we have mentioned that organisations, such as the Scottish Government or local authorities, have ‘duties’ placed on them by legislation. This means that the legislation requires that they must act in a certain way or complete certain actions. There are many different actions that these organisations are required to carry out and so the type of duty will vary in each piece of legislation.


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