Who we represent

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Access Dorset is a user led organisation run by its members who are generally disabled people, older people, carers or other users of support. We are committed to ensuring that the Board of Trustees is representative of the whole membership.

Many of us consider ourselves to be disabled people, recognising that we are ‘disabled’ by barriers in society. This is called the ‘social model’ of disability. We are prevented from participating – in everything from employment to leisure – not by our impairment, but by barriers that can be removed: other people’s fears and prejudices, inaccessible IT, barriers in transport, the built environment or lack of simple support to take part. The ‘social model’ can be a revelation. It is not ‘a given’ that disabled people are disadvantaged: it can change! The reason that so many of us are out of work, living in poverty, isolated, unable to move freely around the country is that we face barriers and – once they are removed – we can seize opportunities and our lives can change.

Many others do not use the term ‘disabled people’ – and we respect the way people define their own experience. Deaf people, for example, are a cultural and linguistic minority; people with HIV often identify as living positively; we talk of learning difficulties as well as learning disabilities; and many people simply view their experiences in terms of having depression/diabetes/heart disease (or any other condition). 11 million people have hugely diverse experiences (and not just on disability – we come from all over the world, we are of every ethnicity, we are mixed race, we are older and younger, of every political view and cultural interest). We view the world in innumerable different ways. Our differences are our strengths.

The important thing is that by achieving equal rights for us all we can increase our opportunities to participate fully in our society. This is good for everyone. We work with individuals, organisations and policy makers to do things differently – and better.

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Access Dorset are proud to be recognised by Jobcentre Plus as a Two Tick Employer.

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