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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Disability detectives

How accessible is your meeting place? Turn into a top team of disability detectives and find out.

Back to Activities

You’ll need

  • Pens or pencils
Detective cards
PDF – 106.3KB

Discuss disability

  1. Everyone should sit in a circle. The person leading the activity should ask if anyone knows what ‘disability’ means, and whether anyone can name any ways people can be disabled.
  2. The person leading the activity should help everyone understand what a disability is, and different ways people may be disabled.
  1. The person leading the game should explain that disabled people are often excluded and left out from activities, events, and experiences because they haven’t been designed to include everyone. They should explain that we can change things to make them more inclusive so everyone can join in.
  2. Everyone should think of ways they’ve seen things made accessible. For example, have they seen a ramp on a bus, or a bus that says the stops out loud? Have they seen museums with displays in braille or videos with subtitles?
  3. Everyone should split into groups of between four and six people. The person leading the activity should give each group a Disability detective card, a pencil or pen, and a helper who’s a confident reader.
  1. Each group should work together to explore their meeting place. What makes it safe and accessible for the people on their card? Is there anything that could be changed to make their meeting place more accessible?
  1. Once each group has filled their card with discoveries, everyone should gather back together in a circle. They should gather in the middle of the space, so they can see as much of it as possible without needing to move.
  2. Each group should share some of their findings. If they found something that wasn’t very accessible, everyone should share their suggestions about what they could do to improve the space: maybe they’ll fundraise to buy a ramp, or make some signs in larger print.

Here is some information to consider when learning about different disabilities:

  • The law says that someone is disabled if they ‘have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities’. This means it’s more difficult to do the sorts of things most of us do every day, and that difficulty stays for a long period of time.
  • Impairments can affect our bodies or our minds, or both. For example, they might affect someone’s senses (such as hearing or vision), their learning, or the way their body works.
  • Some disabilities are invisible ­– you can’t always tell if someone’s disabled by looking at them.
  • One way of looking at disability is that people are disabled by the world around them, rather than their bodies (or minds). For example, someone who can’t walk might use a wheelchair. They’ll be disabled and left out if their friends have a party upstairs in a building where there isn’t a lift. They might also be disabled and left out if all of the tills in a shop are high and they can’t reach. If every building had lifts and ramps, accessible toilets, and lowered switches, it might be that they’d be able to do normal daily activities – they might not feel disabled or left out.
  • This way of looking at disability encourages us to think about the barriers that make life harder for disabled people. If we remove these barriers, we create equality and offer disabled people more independence and the chance to join in with everyone. We should treat disabled people with the same respect and care as we do everyone else – and this means caring about the barriers they say they experience, and doing our best to avoid or get rid of the barriers when we can.

Examples of adjustments and accessibility

Every wheelchair user is an individual, so people’s needs will be different. In general, though, some wheelchair users might need:

  • places to have ramps or lifts instead of (or as well as) stairs.
  • places to have an accessible toilet with equipment that helps them use it.
  • the red cord in disabled toilets to be left loose, so they can pull it if they need help.
  • people to make things such as light switches or cupboards lower down, so they can reach them while sitting.
  • a space (instead of a chair) at places such as the cinema.

Everyone who is blind or partially sighted (or has a visual impairment) is an individual, so people’s needs will be different. In general, though, some people might need:

  • things like boxes of medicine to have braille on, so they know what’s inside.
  • television shows, films, or plays to be audio described.
  • road crossings to make a noise so they know when it’s safe to cross.
  • a bumpy floor near a road crossing to warn them where a road is.
  • their computer or phone to read out loud (so they need people to make sure their websites can be read by technology).

Everyone with dyslexia is an individual, so people’s needs will be different. In general, though, some people with dyslexia might need:

  • verbal (spoken) instructions rather than written ones.
  • text in a different colour, size, or font.
  • their computer or phone to read out loud (so they need people to make sure their websites can be read by technology).
  • spell checking software.
  • more time to do tasks that involve reading and writing (and/or more frequent breaks).
  • ways to show what they know without writing (for example, drawing or talking to someone).


This activity helped you to respect others. Why is it important to make sure spaces are accessible? How accessible was your meeting place—what things (good and bad) did you notice? People may have noticed things like stairs, high up handles, switches, or cupboards, or a lot of written notices.

This activity also helped you to care. Imagine if you were disabled and came to join in all of the fun. Think about one way of being disabled you’ve talked about today. Closing your eyes may help you think more clearly. How accessible are your meeting place and activities? How do you think you’d feel before you came for the first time, if you weren’t sure if you’d be included? How would it feel if you were included? What about if you were left out? Everyone should open their eyes. You can do a lot to make sure people are included: you can be welcoming and make sure you include people in your games and activities, and you can try to make sure the people in charge of activities and places make changes so everyone can take part.


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

  • If you have a camera (or smartphone), people could take pictures of the meeting place as well as (or instead of) making notes.
  • People can tell the helper what they found, and the helper can make notes.
  • Groups can swap cards once they’ve finished if they want to. They could also give another group a tour, pointing out everything they found.
  • Many organisations support and advocate for disabled people—you could invite them along to talk to everyone, and even help with the activity. Some parents and carers may be able to help (or lend an expert opinion) too.
  • A helper should stay with each group to help with reading.
  • Be aware if anyone in your group is disabled or has a condition (or if anyone in their family does). They may or may not be happy to talk about it—always check with them (and their parents and carers) first. If some topics (for example, specific conditions) are sensitive, you may need to avoid them. This activity is about how we make sure everyone can be included—it isn’t about singling anyone out as different.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

You may want to explore the changes you could make as part of your Community Impact Staged Activity Badge.

If people find something they could change about their meeting place, empower them to plan and make the changes themselves, whether they make some better signs or fundraise for a ramp.