Developing Deaf and Disabled Leaders for the future

Updates on our project to support lived experience leadership.

About the project

We are delighted to announce our new 18 month leadership training and development programme. This is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

DDPOs face significant challenges in “bringing on” new Deaf and Disabled leaders or accessing leadership development programmes that are accessible and right for DDPOs. In response, we have designed a leadership programme to trial with 10 Deaf/Disabled people who have shown an interest or potential for leadership. Using “human centred design” theories and techniques, we will support participants to identify their own leadership development goals and work practically on leading a change (with coaching and training). Together we will analyse and understand what support is most effective in achieving leadership success.

You can view a powerpoint presentation about the project here: Developing Deaf and Disabled Leaders

Who is leading the leadership programme

This programme is being led by Alex Hendra, Inclusion London’s Associate Business Consultant. She has extensive experience in business development and service design support with DDPOs. Additionally she has experience of co-designing highly successful leadership programmes with Disabled young people.

Update on progress

In August 2019 we recruited 10 Deaf /Disabled people from within our existing networks of DDPOs to take part. These include trustees, staff and volunteers who want to develop their leadership skills and confidence, and who show interest and signs of becoming potential new leaders.

Workshop 1

On 27 September 2019 we held our first workshop. This gave an introduction to the programme and a chance for all participants to get to know each other. We explored what leadership is; individual leadership goals, fears and motivations; and learned about ‘design thinking’. The day was a mix of discussion, and exercises. These included making a ‘collage’ of inspiring leaders, recording a radio interview and a chance for each participant to build an ’empathy box’ to explore in depth what people’s goals, motivations and fears were. Everyone jumped into the first session with enthusiasm. We were hugely impressed by everyone’s willingness to challenge themselves.

Workshop 2
We used creative thinking challenges to start our workshop on October 11th 2019, to get  everyone warmed up and thinking outside of the box. This was followed by an introduction to the “design cycle”.

We set a design challenge, to encourage our participants to jump right in and experience the “design cycle” for themselves. The group spent 90 minutes working on the “problem” of making our training environment and training experience more accessible and comfortable for our group with very wide ranging access needs. They came up with great ideas, some of which they prototyped and trialled immediately. We will trial other ideas during future workshops.

Later, participants learned about “change canvases” and how to use them to explore and plan an change.

We covered a lot in a short afternoon. Most people went away feeling more confident about drawing up their own change canvas. Several took up the opportunity of coaching support before the next session to work through tricky parts of their change.

Workshop 3:
On November 5th our participants came back together to share their change plans, and tell each other the “story” of the change they want to make. We set up three peer support groups who will support each other over the next 8 months. Each group discussed how they would keep in touch. They shared their expectations of each other and what support they think they would need. Peer groups gave each other feedback, ideas and support with their change plans, which everyone found helpful:

“Overall I think the workshop was very helpful, especially going through my peers’ change plans. I was also very happy about who I was paired up with. I feel we  have a lot to offer each other. Actually I feel they have more to offer me than me offering anything to them. Although I am hoping throughout the project as time and more work is put into this, and from the things I learn, I will become helpful to my peers.”

“I found pairing up and learning from their suggestions beneficial, also learning about their change plan, seeing how some suggestions can link to one another.”

“a challenging but useful day.”

It was exciting and inspiring to see the range of change plans people are embarking on, and we can’t wait to see people’s progress on making them happen!