YouGov worked alongside the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to explore the reasonable adjustments that solicitors and law firms can make to be more accessible for disabled people.
In 2019, YouGov worked with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on “Reasonable adjustments in the provision of legal services”. The report provides insights into disabled people’s experiences of accessing services, the barriers and enablers to making services accessible, and how legal service firms can provide better information for disabled people.
To ensure the research was accessible to a range of different disabled people and that barriers to participation were minimal, YouGov adopted various techniques to collect information. The methods covered include:
- A review of published literature on the experiences of disabled people in accessing professional services.
- An online survey of 1,572 disabled people and 14 qualitative in-depth interviews with disabled people without internet access.
- Two online consumer tests of different ways of presenting information about services with 1,270 and 1,023 disabled people respectively.
- An online forum with 30 participants and ten face-to-face interviews (in order to include disabled people who are offline or less confident online).
Results and findings
- People with less visible impairments - such as mental health, memory, learning or social disabilities – face a different and more challenging experience in accessing information and services, compared to those with more visible impairments.
- Almost three quarters of disabled people were rarely or never proactively asked if they needed adjustments when accessing professional services (73%).
- The most common barriers to services being accessible were unhelpful staff (24%) and the disabled person’s own anxiety or lack of confidence (22%).
- Disabled people would like solicitors to understand that disability is a highly personalised experience and that the impacts of a disability can change over time; due to this, a flexible and modified service is highly valued by disabled people.
The report provides recommendations for solicitor firms, in order to increase accessibility of their services and information around their services. The research found that early identification of needs and adjustments is vital if those with disabilities are to access legal services via solicitors.
The research suggested firms could make key improvements to be more accessible to disabled people. These included:
- Proactively asking all clients if they need any reasonable adjustments to be made, with examples of what form these may take.
- Introducing easier-to-navigate and more accessible websites, with dedicated information for those with disabilities.
- Adding pictures of their offices on their website, to help people feel familiar with them and judge how accessible they will be before visiting.
- Train staff in supporting vulnerable clients, and actively promote any relevant expertise, partnerships or accreditations.
As well as promoting the recommendations in this report to firms, this research will feed the intelligence into the SRA’s wider work on improving access to legal services for people from all backgrounds.
As part of the SRA’s Standards and Regulations, which are to be introduced on 25 November 2019, they are also developing best practice guidance on topics such as working with clients with mental capacity issues.
Solution delivered by: Custom Research