A rights-based approach and co-production
What are human rights?
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that we are all entitled to so that we can live with dignity, equality and fairness to develop and reach our potential. Human rights are universal and cannot be given or taken away. They are interdependent, meaning the loss of one impacts on all of them.
Everyone has these rights, no matter what their circumstances are and the UNCRPD confirms and articulates the significance of these rights for disabled adults and children. Under international law, Governments are bound to respect, protect and fulfil human rights.
A rights-based approach
A rights-based approach supports equality, human rights and inclusion and recognises that in many cases it is disabled people rather than professionals or policy makers who know best what practical steps and improvements would make the biggest difference to them. Public bodies and decision makers should work therefore directly with Disabled People's Organisations.
Barriers to independent living take many different forms across many different sectors and services. The best way to remove those barriers and deliver lasting change for disabled people is by ensuring that disabled people have ownership and empowerment.
A human rights-based approach uses human rights international standards to ensure that people's human rights are put at the centre of policies. It empowers people to know and claim their rights and increases the ability of organisations, public bodies and businesses to fulfil their human rights obligations. The PANEL principles show what a human rights based approach means in practice. PANEL stands for Participation, Accountability, Non-Discrimination, Empowerment and Legality.
With our partners, we need to think and act with inspiration, learning from one another to build capacity and capability, and to build better structures which make this shared learning continue long term. This way of working aims to ensure that national outcomes make a difference at local level.
In many instances, disabled people have been treated as passive recipients. This means people who receive services or whose lives are affected by policies but who don't have a say in those services or policies are designed, planned or delivered.
It's important that we change the way we work by building more meaningful partnerships with disabled people at the right time, and in a way which enables them to be informed and confident contributions.
This includes creating genuine opportunities - not to mention accessible information and environments - for disabled people to get involved and feel included. In children's services, this is also called participation. It's important to note that Scotland's population of disabled people is very diverse in terms of impairment type, long and short-term conditions, the barriers faced and other factors such as age, race, sexual orientation, religion, location and family set up.
Working in co-production
Co-production is a way of working that can reflect these differences, encouraging a wider range of disabled people and organisations to contribute to our shared work on independent living.
Co-production won't always deliver a situation that everyone is happy with. Negotiation and compromise therefore, are critical. So too are openness, honesty and trust.
But what it will ensure is that the skills, knowledge and experiences of each partner are equally valued and respected when reaching a consensus on the best way forward.
Achieve it and we'll go a long way to ensuring that we're making the biggest difference where it's needed the most.
Email: Catherine Hewit