Introduction - the consultation and who responded
This report presents the analysis from the Scottish Government Consultation on its Draft Delivery Plan 2016-2020 on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ( UNCRPD). The consultation, which was open between 8 September 2015 and 18 January 2016, was available in various formats. Funding was provided to Disabled People's Organisations ( DPOs) to support engagement with disabled people across Scotland as part of the consultation and the Independent Living in Scotland ( ILiS) project produced a resources pack to support this process.
There were 91 responses to the consultation. Of these, two-thirds (61) were received from groups/organisations and one third (30) was received from individuals. The largest category of respondent was third sector/equality groups who submitted 38 of the responses (42%). Eighty-nine respondents gave permission for their responses to be published.
Recurring themes emerging from the consultation
Consultees were generally supportive of the delivery plan and its aims, but wanted it to go further.
The need for meaningful, early, and on-going engagement with disabled people, disabled people's organisations ( DPOs) and other expert stakeholders was highlighted repeatedly throughout the consultation responses. This consultation process should be on-going from the start right through to the monitoring and evaluation stage. It was also seen as important to engage with the families and carers of disabled people. The SG itself, identified engagement as one of the cross-cutting themes required to underpin delivery of the outcomes, but consultees felt that more work was required in this area.
Inclusive communication was highlighted repeatedly as being very important, and includes, but needs to go beyond, British Sign Language ( BSL), Braille and producing Easy Read information. It is about communicating with people on a level that they can understand, so that they can understand their rights and have their opinions heard.
Some commitments are too vague - consultees wanted firm targets and set deadlines by which to meet them.
Widening the plan to cover all disabled people was highlighted. Certain commitments focus on specific disabilities, specific workforces, a particular age, or gender (including, for example, commitment 23 around a NHS Scotland Learning Disability Employment Programme; commitment 30 which refers to a Child Internet Safety stakeholder group; and commitment 54 about exploring violence against disabled women and girls). It was also stated that all disabled people should be covered by the actions in the plan.
Geographical inequalities were mentioned in relation to a number of commitments, such as a lack of transport in rural areas, and variation in service provision (for example Additional Support for Learning) in different areas. Commitment 13 (funding for a new para sport facility in Inverclyde), in particular, was widely criticised for not meeting the needs of disabled people who live outwith the central belt of Scotland, and there were comments indicating that consultees would prefer local sporting facilities services to be improved and made more accessible.
Not all barriers are physical - attitudes and stigma were often described as the biggest barrier, but there is a belief that parts of the plan focus too much on physical access. Attitudinal barriers might be less tangible and harder to tackle than physical barriers, requiring long term strategies around education and awareness, but it is crucial that they are addressed. The Scottish Government recognises (in Section 3) that the barriers facing disabled people need to be known, understood and addressed.
The cross cutting nature of the commitments would mean groups across different areas of government working together to achieve desired outcomes, and different agencies communicating and working together. It was also noted that the links between different UN treaties and pieces of legislation had to be made. Many of the commitments are interdependent on others. It was highlighted that access to transport has an impact on access to other key areas such as education, health services, employment and sport and culture. Similarly, adequate housing was seen as necessary in order to access other rights.
It was also noted that basic needs had to be met through an appropriate social security system, in order to realise other rights.
There was a desire for person-centred services, which treat disabled people with dignity and respect, and meet their needs in a time and place which is suitable.
Disability and equality training for staff across a range of services including health; leisure; transport; justice; and education was called for. Training and awareness-raising for employers was also called for so that they would be more confident and better able to employ disabled people and make necessary reasonable adjustments.
Disabled people are not a homogeneous group and have different needs and desires. In particular, intersectionality was mentioned. It is important to consider how various factors, such as sharing more than one protected characteristic, can lead to multiple disadvantage.
Human rights -There was a belief that human rights needed to be more central to the delivery plan. In particular, it was mentioned that the PANEL approach (participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and legality) to human rights should be used. It was also stated that PANEL principles should be embedded throughout the delivery plan.
Model of disability used - The delivery plan states that it uses a social model of disability as opposed to the medical model. Whilst there seemed to be a preference for the social model of disability, it was commented that sometimes the language used in the delivery plan seemed to be more in line with the medical model rather than the social model.
Some consultees wished to go beyond the social model of disability to a bio-psycho-social model, which includes elements of both the medical and social model, or to use an assets based model of disability which focuses on what people can do rather than what they cannot do, or to a human rights based model of disability, which recognises that legal, physical, attitudinal, social, cultural and communication barriers within the community are what exclude disabled people.
Implementation of the delivery plan - Many comments were made about how the plan could be put into practice. These included the need for engagement with disabled people; providing adequate funding and resourcing; cross-cutting working; building on existing knowledge and sharing good practice; and the need for monitoring and evaluation.
Monitoring and evaluation - The need to monitor and evaluate the commitments was emphasised, both to ensure that they were implemented and adhered to, and to assess whether or not they were having an impact on the lives of disabled people. It was important to include disabled people and DPOs in this monitoring and evaluation process. It was also noted that commitments needed to be specific and include timescales.
Dissatisfaction with the current situation for disabled people - A number of responses from individuals and groups who represent disabled people expressed their dissatisfaction with the current situation. This dissatisfaction crossed a range of different areas, including, but not limited to: access to transport; access to sport and culture; access to work, including the recruitment process; the low numbers of disabled people taking up Modern Apprenticeships; assessments for disability-related benefits; the current advocacy provision; people with learning disabilities or autistic spectrum disorders being subject to the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003; the experience of accessing health and social care; gaps in the provision of information and support; and engagement processes which do not feel meaningful, or lead to change. There was a belief that much needed to change, and that disabled people need to be involved in directing that change.
Some consultees highlighted areas where there were key gaps in the delivery plan.
The absence of a focus on mental health and commitments relating to mental health was a key area of concern. It was seen as essential to include an explicit focus on mental health if there was to be parity between those with physical disabilities and those with mental health conditions. It was also commented that there should be more focus on other "unseen" disabilities such as autism, and learning disabilities.
More focus is needed on children and young people, and the early years. This reflects both the specific vulnerabilities faced by young disabled people due to their age, which can make them more reliant on others to meet their needs. The crucial role that early years has on future outcomes was also commented on , and that in order to improve the future outcomes of disabled children and young people, there needed to be a specific focus on meeting their needs early on.
There were calls for more focus on education, for children and young people, but also further education for adults, including those for whom employment might not be an option due to their disability. There was a preference for disabled children and young people to be educated in mainstream schools It was also believed that that all children should learn about disability and equality and tolerance from a young age. This was seen as a preventative strategy against stigma, discrimination and hate crime.
It was stated that there was not enough focus on social care in relation to health and social care integration, and the role that social care can play in supporting disabled people in their lives. There were concerns about a health-led focus of health and social care integration, , which both fails to recognise the key role that social care can play in supporting disabled people to lead independent lives, and has the potential to be preventative, and lessen their need to access health care. There were also concerns that a health focus would be more concerned with intervention at crisis stage, rather than longer term investment in preventative social care support.
Transition periods, particularly between school and post-school and children to adult services, are seen as a particularly vulnerable times and can result in young disabled people losing valuable support services. It was felt that more attention needed to be paid to improving transitions, especially for the most vulnerable, such as disabled young people who have been in care.
It was believed that more emphasis should be given to the right to a personal and social and family life, and the need to take steps to reduce social isolation and promote social inclusion.
It was mentioned that access to civic and political life should have been included.
It was mentioned that access to justice should include civil justice.