Harriet Cavanagh is the Insight Executive at Scope. She talks about how the Insight Team supports our disability research panel. How they gather insights from disabled people about business products and services. And how this helps them to be more accessible.

Who are Scope’s Insight Disability Equality trained facilitators?

Scope’s Customer and Market Insight Team does research with disabled people and families. We are all trained in Scope’s safeguarding level 2. This involves equality, accessibility, adjustments and co-production.

We all have a high level of research expertise. And some of our team are disabled, so we draw on their lived experience.

Disability equality training means we all understand the social model of disability. We’re all aware of things like:

  • UK Legislation
  • the history of the disabled community
  • what access barriers are
  • how to better support all people across a full range of impairments and conditions

What we do is more than disability awareness. We are more interested in disability equality. This is about understanding the barriers that people can face. And how to support disabled people to change society.

What makes Scope different to other disability facilitators?

We structure the projects in a way that no disabled people feel excluded from taking part. And we make sure that their voices are heard. This means our projects will gather helpful and often unique insight for our clients.

During each stage, we point out the things the client needs to consider. This is important to make sure the briefing, research and fieldwork are accessible. There are many things you need to think about when working with different access needs.

We also benefit from having many colleagues at Scope who we can speak to for advice. This includes our services colleagues. They work with disabled people daily and can share what they are hearing.

How does the insight team help the research process?

We stay up to date with best practices and issues affecting disabled people. This helps us find any missing areas that might be important to cover in the research.

We make recommendations if there are any particular experiences we need to include. For example:

  • disabled parents aged 18 to 34
  • disabled people on benefits

Some research projects are open to all disabled people or households. But others need to hear from a specific group.

We then work with our Research Team to recruit the relevant panel members for things like:

  • surveys
  • interviews
  • user testing
  • discussion groups, sometimes called ‘focus groups’

We develop the discussion guide and work with clients to gather the content. This includes any materials we will share in sessions to get the client’s feedback.

We want to make sure that our panel members have a positive experience. And we want them to feel that their voices have been heard. We also want to make sure that our clients are discovering what disabled people feel and need. This will help them to improve their products, policies and services.

We also work closely with the Partnerships Team. And other colleagues, to deliver the best accessible research possible.

What can businesses learn about their customers from working with Scope?

More than 1 in 4 people are disabled in the UK. Businesses lose about £2 billion every month (Purple).

This is just from failing to consider their disabled consumers’ needs. We work with a range of businesses to help them gather insights from disabled people. To help them understand how disabled people use their products and services.

There’s a real benefit in improving and making their offers more accessible.

Through Scope’s insight team, businesses can:

  • access disabled consumers’ lived experience
  • gain an in-depth understanding of their views and needs

Our disability research panel

Over the last 5 years, Scope has built the research panel to include:

  • disabled people
  • parents and families of disabled people

They all come from a wide range of different backgrounds across England and Wales. We’re also a pan-disability charity. This means we support and represent disabled people with any type of:

  • condition
  • impairment
  • access needs

The research panel reflects this diversity with no barriers to inclusion.

Our research aims to capture this diversity. And our findings are based on a broad range of perspectives. This allows businesses to:

  • learn about potential or existing customers’ day-to-day lives
  • design, develop, and deliver their products and services in a more inclusive way

Business insights from the research panel

In our work, exploring disabled people’s experiences can reveal important insights. This allows businesses to access invaluable opportunities for progress and growth.

For example, businesses may learn about things:

  • the barriers that stop disabled people from becoming aware of their service. Or stop them from accessing it.
  • the different needs of potential customers
  • the feelings involved in a disabled person’s customer journey

This is an important first step. It helps you create a positive relationship with your disabled customers.

Learning more about disabled customers is a powerful way of creating consumer empathy. As well as communicating with customers more effectively.

Disability inclusion benefits everyone

Inclusion is not limited to disabled communities.

Our needs can change throughout our lives for different reasons. We might have a temporary injury that makes us disabled, for example. So we can all benefit from improved accessibility and considerate support.

We want all businesses to create accessible and inclusive products and environments. This helps businesses to:

  • engage with disabled audiences
  • improve brand reputation for equality
  • make a real contribution to social change

Every business, small or large, has influence and the potential to become an agent of change. We believe that investing in disabled people positively impacts everyone. And helps to create a more inclusive and equal society.

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