Skip to main content

Learning Difficulties and Ethnicity

The Centre for Research in Primary Care at the University of Leeds was commissioned by the Department of Health to conduct a scoping study of services for people with learning difficulties from minority ethnic communities. The study consisted of a review of the literature and interviews with key respondents. While people with learning difficulties from minority ethnic communities and their carers face considerable problems in accessing relevant services, there are also examples of approaches and projects which seek to meet their needs more appropriately.

The main points highlighted in this report are as follows.

Minority ethnic communities face substantial inequalities and discrimination in employment, education, health and social services.

The higher prevalence of learning difficulties in South Asian communities has been linked to high levels of material and social deprivation. These may combine with other factors such as poor access to maternal health care, misclassification and higher rates of environmental or genetic risk factors.  People with learning difficulties from minority ethnic communities experience simultaneous disadvantage in relation to race, impairment and, for women, gender. Negative stereotypes and attitudes held by service professionals contribute to the disadvantage they face.