Information

Experience Panels: branding of Social Security Scotland

Findings from research into Social Security Scotland’s name and logo, and branding and wording guidance.

This document is part of a collection


Words

The agency wants to ensure that the words it uses when talking about those who have contact with the agency, social security and disability are appropriate and respectful. Participants were asked their thoughts on a number of different words.

How we talk about those who have contact with the agency

We also asked participants how comfortable they felt with five words used to refer to people who have contact with the agency. The word most survey participants were comfortable with was ‘individuals’, with nine in ten participants feeling very comfortable or comfortable with the word.

76 per cent of participants were comfortable or very comfortable with ‘clients’ however just over one in five were very uncomfortable or uncomfortable. Participants were slightly less comfortable with the phrase ‘people entitled to benefits’ (58.8 per cent very comfortable or comfortable) compared to ‘people with a right to benefits’ (66 per cent very comfortable or comfortable).

Table 13: Survey participant views on words used to talk about those who have contact with the agency (n=91-92)

Word or phrase Very comfortable or Comfortable (%) Uncomfortable or Very uncomfortable (%) Don’t know / No opinion (%)
Clients 76 21 3
People entitled to benefits 59 40 1
People with a right to benefits 65 34 1
Applicants 78 20 2
Individuals 90 9 1

Participants were generally happy with the term ‘clients’, preferring it over other terms such as ‘customers’. For some, the term customers was not appropriate as they couldn’t ‘choose to go elsewhere’.

How we talk about ill health and disability

Participants were also asked their views on how we should talk about ill health and disability. More than three quarters of participants were very comfortable or comfortable with the phrases ‘wheelchair user’, ‘person with [condition]’ and ‘person who has experience of [condition]’. Almost a third of participants were uncomfortable with ‘disabled people’, ‘impairment’ and ‘person with an impairment’ however around six in ten participants were comfortable or very comfortable with these terms.

Table 14: Survey participant views on words used to talk about disabilities (n=90-92)

Word or phrase Very comfortable or Comfortable (%) Uncomfortable or Very uncomfortable (%) Don’t know / No opinion (%)
Disabled people 67 32 1
Person with [condition] 76 23 1
Person with experience of [condition] 78 19 3
Impairment 65 34 1
Person with impairment 65 33 2
Wheelchair user 84 13 3

A recurring comment in focus groups and the survey was putting the person first was important:

“It should be people with disabilities or impairments and not disabled people. Because we are people first.”

Other views on words used by the agency

Participants made a number of other comments relating to the words used by the agency. These tended to be general observations as to how the agency should act:

  • Speak in plain English with easy to understand language
  • Treat clients as individuals and always put the person before the condition
  • Language should be factual and truthful

Contact

Email: James Miller

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