Dealing with complaints
Representation of disabled people is relatively rare, which can make people acutely sensitive to images of disability that do exist.
If a particular way of depicting a disabled person in a campaign was chosen to challenge people's preconceptions, take strength from this even if it has attracted criticism. If a mistake was made, it is a lesson learnt.
People may also show annoyance if they consider a piece of information is inaccessible or not easy to access.
If the person's behaviour becomes abusive, you have the right to point this out and to end communication. It can be upsetting to be criticised, especially by someone with a significant impairment. But disabled people can be wrong, unfair and rude, just like anyone else.
Remember that involving disabled people in your communications planning will help reduce the possibility of causing any offence.
What you can do
- Acknowledge the anger or complaint.
- Treat people respectfully and value their expertise.
- Try to calm the person down if they show anger - but avoid a patronising tone.
- Apologise if relevant.
- Pass on any criticism to those who can respond.
- Feed back anything useful you learn to your team to inform future work.
- Involve disabled people in your communications planning.
- Get angry.
- Take a defensive approach.
- Let the complaint dampen your team’s creativity.
Many disabled people have experienced discrimination, even abuse, in their lives. Living in an inaccessible, sometimes unfriendly world can make ordinary tasks tiring and frustrating.
Page last reviewed: 04 November 2010