THE recent LDAS 2018 conference welcomed delegates from across the country to examine whether Scotland is becoming a fairer place for people with learning disabilities to live.
The Scottish Government’s 5-year Fairer Scotland plan to change the lives of people with learning disabilities and ensure their human rights are realised formed the basis of the conference ‘A Fairer Scotland – How do we get there?’
The delivery plan for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is now in its second year and has set out five long-term ambitions aimed at ‘transforming’ the lives of disabled people in Scotland for the better.
Among the LDAS conference delegates less than half, 45%, said they knew about the Fairer Scotland plan compared with 35% who said they did not. In terms of seeing the impact of the plan, 74% said they were ‘not sure’ if it was making a difference to their lives overall as yet.
The lifetime of the Fairer Scotland delivery plan still has over 3 years to run and recognition is not necessarily an important indicator of how well it is performing for people with learning disabilities, better that the impact is being felt in a positive way.
For that reason LDAS also asked delegates their views on the 5 specific areas of ‘ambition’ to find out if they felt they were being achieved and making a difference to their lives.
Some 63% of conference delegates overwhelmingly felt their needs and choices were being met and respected while most, 42%, felt they were experiencing positive participation in society.
In the other 3 areas most people said they are not yet feeling the positive impacts yet with 50% saying they do not have enough income, 44% saying they are not feeling the impact of fairer treatment and protected rights and a rather large majority, 62%, saying they have not felt the positive impact of greater accessibility.
More importantly at the conference LDAS was keen to give a voice to delegates to put forward their own ‘areas of ambition’ – you can see the results of these discussions from each of our 7 conference groups here: Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4, Group 5 a and b, Group 6, Group 7.
The feedback shows there are particular standout areas and issues that the majority of delegates feel would aid in the development and delivery of a fairer Scotland for them.
Of importance to all of the delegates groups was the need for a greater awareness and understanding of learning disabilities among the general public, something they felt that would help stop bullying and create a more inclusive society.
“We want a better understanding that people with learning disabilities can do things but might need help or do it differently,” stated Group 2.
“More positive messages about learning disabilities and about us…we’re human!” demanded Group 3.
Not surprisingly accessible transport and public areas was also high on the agenda as was the pressing need for more accessible communications, an understanding of the different communication needs of people with learning disabilities and a more accessible voting system.
“More disabled access, better pavements, more accessible public transport for wheelchairs,” said Group 7.
The increasing focus on online systems and forms, especially in relation to social security was a major issue raised by delegates and links directly to the lack of understanding of learning disability and accessible communications issues.
“Less online forms, more one to one support is needed,” explained Group 4.
Greater flexibility around support needs from care to employment was another area highlighted by delegates who feel much more is needed in terms of support in almost every area if Scotland is to achieve a society that is truly inclusive of people with learning disabilities.
“People with learning disabilities should get more support so we can be included in the community,” urged Group 5.
LDAS staff grouped the issues raised by the conference groups into the 5 areas listed above for our infographic report and easy read versions here and here. Click on the images below to download pdf versions.