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The right to a relationship

Thanks to funding from DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme, the NDTi research team will be working alongside partner organisation ‘My Life My Choice’ (MLMC) to explore how we can address the barriers that people with learning disabilities face in developing and sustaining sexual relationships.

Take the Survey

If you have a Learning Disability you may want to take our survey which is part of the research into romantic relationships for people with learning disabilities. 

Click here: 

We also have a number of other surveys looking at different perspectives

Family Carers: 

Support Workers:



People with learning disabilities want to develop and sustain sexual relationships just like everyone else. We know from our own experiences and from reviewing the research in this area, that people with learning disabilities experience many barriers to developing sexual relationships – including attitudes, lack of information and limited opportunities to meet people.

One set of barriers that our research review  highlighted are those that arise as a direct result of the way that services, support and care for people with learning disabilities is commissioned and delivered. Rules and practices in residential care and supported living such as those around curfews, visitors, overnight guests, single beds and limited privacy can get in the way of developing and sustaining sexual relationships.

Limitations in how support hours are delivered can make it difficult to meet people and develop relationships.

We believe that there are rules, regulations, policies and practices in commissioned learning disability support that stop people from exercising their right to a sexual relationship.

The Research

This mixed methods research seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. What barriers, intentional and unintended, do people with learning disabilities experience in developing and sustaining sexual relationships, that are the direct result of the way that support services are commissioned and delivered?
  2. How commonly are these barriers experienced among the learning disability population?
  3. What commissioning and support practices support people with learning disabilities to develop and sustain sexual relationships?
  4. What policy and/or practice changes are needed to address these barriers and promote the good practice identified?

Knowledge gained through the research will be used to campaign for change by commissioners and providers, and empower individuals to self-advocate for change in their own lives, through raising awareness and developing ‘Charters for Change’.