National Transitions to Adulthood Strategy - statement of intent: engagement analysis

Full report on analysis of feedback received on the National Transitions to Adulthood Strategy: statement of intent.

Question 2

Do you agree that the meaning we have given to ‘disabled young people’ is the correct one for the strategy?

There were 150 responses to this question. As shown in Table 4 at the Annex, the vast majority of respondents either ‘strongly agreed’ (57 respondents; 38%) or ‘agreed’ (78 respondents; 52%) that the meaning given to ‘disabled young people’ is the correct one for the strategy. A very small minority either ‘disagreed’ (3 respondents; 2%) or ‘strongly disagreed’ (2 respondents; 1%).

A total of 103 responses were received for the follow up question (‘Please explain your answer’). A large minority of respondents made general comments in support of the proposed definition under ‘disabled young people’.

However, there were a small number of respondents who commented on whether a young person would necessarily identify as ‘disabled’. Examples given included neurodiverse and deaf young people. There were also some reflections on perceived negative connotations associated with the terminology of ‘disabled’. Similar to the proposed definition of ‘transition to adulthood’, some respondents acknowledged that no single definition would cover all individual preferences.

The meaning you have given is broad and inclusive. We particularly like the recognition that some people may not define themselves as disabled.

The use of the definition set out within the Equality Action [Act] (2010) seems appropriate and this definition encompasses people with a wide spectrum of disabilities, including complex health needs such as those with life shortening conditions.

Five overarching themes were identified through responses to this question. They were:

  • Access to services and support
  • Interaction with other policies and legislation
  • Role of parents/carers
  • Intersectionality
  • Language

Access to services and support

A significant minority of respondents reflected that the ability to self-identify as disabled under this definition is not compatible with many support services’ eligibility requirements which are reliant on a formal diagnosis. Lengthy waiting lists, in turn, were seen to hamper the ability to secure such diagnoses. A few noted that the ability to self-identify as disabled under the Equality Act 2010 definition could have implications for services in relation to capacity and workforce training and planning.

A small number of respondents also noted particular challenges in relation to the transition between children’s and adult’s services, where eligibility criteria - and resultant access to support and services - may be different (despite the support and services young people actually need remaining the same). A small number of respondents felt that services should be held accountable for providing support for transitions.

Interaction with other policies and legislation

A few respondents cited a range of existing policy and legislation which they suggested merited greater reference within the strategy, and suggested that the proposed definition of ‘disabled young people’ should be broadened to ensure greater alignment with other policy, legislation and treaties such as:

  • The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004
  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
  • The Children (Scotland) Act 1995
  • Legislation and policies relating to care experienced young people

Role of parents/carers

Again a small number of respondents reflected in the response to this question that the role of parents/carers must also be considered, particularly with reference to young people who may have complex needs. Respondents commented that adult incapacity, power of attorney and guardianship should be considered as part of the strategy.


A few respondents highlighted that being disabled should not imply an homogenous group. The theme of intersectionality arose in relation to particular conditions and differences, invisible or hidden disabilities, mental health, and other protected characteristics such as race, gender and sexual orientation. A small minority of respondents also highlighted that neurodivergent young people may not identify with the terminology of ‘disabled’, and a few respondents also highlighted the need for better mental health support for disabled young people.


There were mixed views around the use of the social model of disability versus the medical model, with a few respondents welcoming the social model and a small number favouring the medical model. The social model, as proposed by the statement of intent, holds that people are disabled by barriers in society whereas the medical model understands people are disabled by their condition.

A small minority noted that the consistency of language used across services was important, with respondents noting that the terminologies used and understanding of the term ‘disabled’ can vary, which in turn can create barriers for young people navigating transitions. Disability, Additional Support Needs (ASN), and Special Educational Needs were all referenced in relation to this, with some respondents expressing the confusion can result in young people missing out on support they need. A few respondents suggested that ASN, as used by the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, should also apply to the strategy.

A few respondents noted clarity was required with regards to the phrase ‘long-term’ within the Equality Act 2010 definition of disability. For example, some reflected the language of ‘long term’ may create barriers to accessing support, where a young person has only recently received a diagnosis.

We support the need to work on a pan-impairment basis that is rooted in the social model of disability, focusing on the barriers disabled young people face as a result of any impairment. A lack of formal medical diagnosis should not prevent a young person from accessing the support they need.



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