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EVERY WEEK or month seems to be promoting awareness of different disabilities or organisations.

This week is Learning Disability Week, an annual event, and this year's theme is 'Looking Back, Thinking Forward' in Scotland's past, present and future. The week is co-ordinated by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD). The aim of the week is for the public to take the opportunity to reflect on how the lives of people with learning disabilities here in Scotland have changed since the launch of Scotland's first learning disability strategy in 2001.

This new strategy is called 'The Keys to Life' and was launched in 2013, supported by the Scottish Government, to discover if the lives of people with a learning disability had improved since their previous strategy, 'The Same As You' in 2001.

For me, every day is about raising awareness of disability issues and breaking the barriers so that we can have a fairer, more equal society for 175,000 adults in Scotland with a learning disability (that's enough people to fill three football stadiums).
A team was set up to research statistics and opinions, and 'The Keys to Life' is the outcome of the research. The team created a survey group to get feedback on the report, and all of the information has helped build a new, informative and insightful resource.

'The Keys to Life' has lots of recommendations about how the lives of people with learning disabilities can be, and have, improved. One recommendation is an idea around making things better in the future. The organisers want to learn lessons from the past, and think about how we can work towards building a better future.

For me, every day is about raising awareness of disability issues and breaking the barriers so that we can have a fairer, more equal society for 175,000 adults in Scotland with a learning disability (that's enough people to fill three football stadiums).

40-60% of children born to parents with learning disabilities don't grow up in the family home. Of the 22,600 of adults living in Scotland with learning disabilities who are known to local authorities, one third of them lives with a family carer.

But I think the most concerning statistics in Scotland today are:

- Only seven per cent of adults with learning disability are in employment.

- Half of school leavers with learning disabilities do not enter into employment.

As you can see there is some way to go on getting more people with a disability into employment, bearing in mind that this campaign runs every year and still there is little change.

We should be looking forward as a society, and get more people with a disability who can work into a job. An independent Scotland could achieve this.

I don't understand why there is still stigma around employers hiring people with a disability. I know a lot of people who would love to work, but are not given the chance to show what they are capable of.

This has to change.

This article first appeared on the CommonSpace website at https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/10978/michael-mcewan-stigma-around-employing-people-disability-has-end