Disability, sexuality and access to services.

  • Elaine Cooper
  • Published 2003 in
    The journal of family planning and reproductive…


Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care 2003: 29(3) 2003 is the European Year of the Disabled. It seems appropriate that these two editorials, which follow a half-day conference session on disability, sexuality and access to services held in the UK, should appear in 2003. That a third of a conference programme addressed this issue was a step forward in itself in raising awareness. The fact that three of the four presentations were by workers and trainers in the field who themselves have physical disabilities, namely spinal injury (see Editorial on page 125), visual impairment and profound deafness, gave these presentations more credibility and impact. The fourth speaker, highly regarded and experienced in the field of learning disability, spoke on consent and capacity to consent and raised the particular issues relating to learning disability (see Overview on page 148). These issues often cause anxiety and difficulty to clinicians endeavouring to provide a service to clients with special needs. In October 2004, further parts of the Disability Discrimination Act 19951 are to be introduced. This will mean that everyone is supposed to have access to whatever facility they want to use – be it hotels, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, churches, shops, transport and, of course, health facilities. This should ensure physical access, but access to a service is about more than having a ramp and a suitably modified toilet facility. Access is also about availability of equal information so that informed choices can be made, and feeling welcome, accepted and valued alongside other non-disabled service users. Whilst it can be helpful and sometimes necessary to provide specialist, dedicated services for people with a disability, e.g. home visiting, the majority want the ability to access general services with consideration for particular enabling measures. Incorrect assumptions are often made. The person most able to tell providers what they need is the service user. In general and individual consultations, asking if assistance is needed and in which way it needs to be given is often overlooked, forgetting that each individual is the expert as regards their own needs. Apart from the abovementioned ramps and toilets, good signposting is essential. Asking the way can be difficult for some clients due to:

Cite this paper

@article{Cooper2003DisabilitySA, title={Disability, sexuality and access to services.}, author={Elaine Cooper}, journal={The journal of family planning and reproductive health care}, year={2003}, volume={29 3}, pages={123} }