Delivering Change - current activity on the cross-cutting themes
Three cross-cutting themes should be part of all that we do in the Scottish Government to help us implement the UNCRPD.
For disabled people to be able to participate fully in life, whether individually or collectively, privately or in public, the right conditions must exist. From safe, equal access to the physical environment and the provision of advice and support, to a society where politics, people and service providers support the social model of disability and recognise the value of removing disabling barriers.
1. Disabled people are empowered to participate more fully
Where we are now
- The Smith Commission report - recommends that powers over social security for disabled people and their carers be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The process transferring these powers is happening now and the Scottish Government will develop and implement the policy and systems that will deliver the benefits. Scottish Ministers have already committed to meaningful engagement and participation of people and organisations that have an interest, co-producing an approach in Scotland for the differing needs of disabled people. The guiding principles in the UNCRPD will be similar to the principles of this approach. We will work with COSLA and other partners in addressing inequality in the development and design of future social security systems.
- The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act - provides a legal framework that will promote and encourage community empowerment and participation. It creates new rights for community bodies and places new duties on public authorities.
- Transport Accessibility - Transport Scotland has been engaging with the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, Disabled People's Organisations, Scottish Government policy colleagues, transport providers and local government on accessibility of door-to-door journeys in Scotland. A summit was organised in co-production and a steering group evolved from this to develop a national Transport Accessibility Plan. COSLA has also aligned their work with this which reflects a collaborative approach.
There are a number of other good practice examples which are working in this way, for example:
- Criminal Justice Disability Advisory Group - 15 organisations representing disabled people are on this group which supports the Criminal Justice Disability Project Group as a 'critical friend'. It responds to the ILiS report 'Justice is Served' that justice organisations and disabled people should be better connected and the justice profession would benefit from the expertise of Disabled People's Organisations.
- Scotland's Electoral Future - the Scottish Government recognises the importance for elections to be accessible for voters including disabled people. Responses to the recent consultation on improvements to how elections are run in Scotland are being analysed in the context of the high levels of engagement at the referendum on independence and the UK Parliament elections.
- Electoral Reforms - are expected to take place because of the devolution of further powers by the UK Government to Scotland. The Scottish Government has met with the British Deaf Association, the Royal National Institute for Blind People and Enable Scotland to discuss improving the experience disabled people in all stages of elections.
- Your Child, Your Choices Project - the National Deaf Children's Society has received funding from the Scottish Government to develop resources to help parents understand how to communicate with their deaf baby or toddler from birth through to starting school. It will support families and provide language skills for the child at a critical age.
- Strengthening Access Panels Project - Scottish Disability Equality Forum are working with local Access Panels to improve access and equality across Scotland. The Access Panel Network is the only pan-disability volunteer-led network of groups in Scotland. As the Umbrella Body for access panels, SDEF provide training, tools and guidance to increase their capacity and capability to promote access and equality in their localities and on a national level.
- Scottish Disability Equality Forum BALE Project - (Building Accessible Living Environments) is a website which is being developed to promote good practice in accessible design for architects, planning professionals and those who employ them. The website aims to encourage design in a way which respects disabled people's right to independent living and to freedom of movement.
- Public Boards and Corporate Diversity Programme Board - has been set up to improve Board diversity in private, public and third sector organisations and to make Ministerial public appointments more representative of the communities they serve. Whilst the initial focus is on women, the Scottish Government will draw on the lessons learned from this work for other groups including disabled people. There is much to do for increased representation from disabled people. Currently we have developed an accessible application pack to ensure that people are not inadvertently excluded. We are planning to provide pre-application support to assist in the application process.
- Charter for Involvement - the Scottish Government funded the National Involvement Network who are a group of people with learning disabilities to write a Charter consisting of 12 statements about people with learning disabilities being involved in decisions about their lives. It puts them at the heart of any plans that affect them.
2. Communication is accessible and inclusive to all
For disabled people to achieve their rights in terms of the UNCRPD, they need to access information and services - in a way that suits their needs. Without it, they can face widespread exclusion and discrimination.
Where we are now
Some of the work already underway in the Scottish Government to address this is:
- Equality and Diversity Matters - one of the eight equality outcomes that the Scottish Government set in 2013 focuses on increasing confidence and knowledge levels of the Scottish Government staff on equality and diversity matters. This includes ensuring that staff are better able to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders. Being able to communicate in an inclusive way is a key requirement to be able to reach all stakeholders. We need to be more confident when engaging with partners and stakeholders to bring about change and improvement. We will start a series of inclusive communication seminars with Sense Scotland in October 2015, and intend to roll these out further with other partners to adopt the principles across the organisation from 2016 onwards. Embedding inclusive communication principles across the organisation will not only be important for disabled people, but will also assist in addressing the needs of some older and minority ethnic people.
- Assisted Digital - the public sector will deliver all services online that can be delivered in this way. Reasonable adjustments must be in place to ensure equality of access and opportunity. Alternatives to online engagement must be clear as around 20% of the population are not online. This will include consideration of software and applications that help disabled people to transact with public services. The Scottish Government will work with the UK Government, COSLA and others to produce a high level standard and develop guidance to support a consistent approach.
- Pass IT On - passitoncomputers have been funded by the Scottish Government. A small charity working with severely disabled people on a one-to-one basis, it adapts donated second hand equipment to specifically meet the needs of individuals. The impact they have is far reaching and whilst they concentrate on improving the quality of life of the disabled person, many carers have benefited from their work. The core staff work with disabled volunteers.
- Digital Participation Challenge Fund - the Scottish Government fund a digital participation team in the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations and a £200,000 Challenge Fund. Third sector organisations can bid for funding to support projects that will increase digital participation amongst disadvantaged and excluded groups.
- Digital Participation Charter - on behalf of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations manage this charter where organisations across all sectors can sign up to it, ensuring that all of their employees have basic digital skills. Alternatively, organisations can offer support through mentoring, volunteering, providing equipment etc to other organisations that need to gain these skills.
- Digital Interns - 50% of charities lack basic digital skills. With support from the Scottish Government, digital interns in the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations assist third sector organisations with support on digital marketing which helps improve sustainability and explores new ways of working with disadvantaged and excluded people.
- See Hear: Joint Sensory Impairment Strategy - this strategy includes six key recommendations to improve how people with sensory impairments use services over a 10-year period.
- National Standards for Community Engagement - the Scottish Government is working in partnership with the Scottish Community Development Centre and What Works Scotland to review the National Standards for Community Engagement. This will include an Easy Read version which will be produced collaboratively with the Glasgow Disability Alliance.
- Historic Scotland Access for all - free entry to all sites is given for one to one carers accompanying disabled visitors and assistance dogs are welcomed. Large print scripts are available and portable handsets on all audio tours. Where possible accessible parking and blue badge holders take priority.
- A Right to Speak - guidance for supporting individuals who use Alternative & Augmentative Communication contains eight recommendations, and a model of service delivery.
- Lip Reading Strategy Group - consisting of representatives from health boards, third sector and Scottish Government, this group has re-established the lip reading tutors course, with work also underway on referral pathways and a communication strategy.
- Partners in Communication - building upon the principles of inclusive communication (PIC) and the aims of the Independent Living Movement, this Sense Scotland project is working to ensure that disabled people with complex communication support needs can exercise more choice and control.
- Creating Connections in Communication - the Scottish Disability Equality Forum is working with Access Panels and public bodies to increase the availability of inclusive communication formats and provide advice on good practice. SDEF have also introduced an Easy Read version of their consultation briefing responses to encourage greater engagement and understanding of policy issues amongst disabled people.
- ContactScotland-BSL - is a new Scottish Government-funded service unique to the UK and means that BSL users can now speak to public services, such as their local council, doctors surgery etc without someone having to call on their behalf. This represents a major step forward in terms of improving access to information and services for Deaf citizens.
- Inclusive Communication Hub - with Scottish Disability Equality Forum, SAIF are working towards improving their current website to create an online Inclusive Communication Hub. This will provide a shared space for Guidance and templates on accessible formats, inclusive communication practices accessible to all.
3. Raising awareness
The Scottish Government needs to promote that the work ongoing around implementation of UNCRPD and independent living is not nice-to-have or a good thing to do - it's a matter of equal rights. By raising awareness of UNCRPD, the barriers that disabled people experience in day to day living will be known, understood and addressed. By being able to access their rights, disabled people will be supported to live independently.
Where we are now
A number of initiatives are underway to raise awareness of disabling barriers and the need to remove them. These initiatives include:
- Scotland's Electoral Future - the recent consultation is being analysed in the context of the high levels of engagement the referendum on Scottish Independence and our response will be published in due course.
- Accessible Elections - the Scottish Government recognises how important it is for disabled people that elections are accessible and that the experience of elections at all stages should be improved for disabled voters. We are exploring this with the British Deaf Association, the Royal National Institute for Blind People Scotland and ENABLE Scotland, in the broader context of the ongoing electoral reforms expected to take place in the devolution of further powers.
- Civil and Community Engagement - the Scottish Government has funded Deafblind Scotland to boost the capacity of an innovative new project enabling Deafblind people with dual sensory loss have the skills, confidence and communication support to participate in civic and community engagement.
- Finding the Solutions - Independent Living in Scotland (ILiS) was funded by the Scottish Government to stage three Solutions Series events each year. These are a series of pop-up think tanks that bring people together in co-production to identify solutions to disabling barriers. Topics so far have included the representation of disabled people in the media, their participation in sport and their involvement in political life.
- Independent Living in Glasgow - the Scottish Government has funded Glasgow Disability Alliance to build the capacity of disabled and Public Sector Community Planning Partners to work together to reform services.
- Creating the Conditions - the Independent Living in Scotland project is working to increase understanding amongst decision makers of the concept of independent living and the importance of disabled people's views to achieving it.
- Making the Connections to Enable Change - working with Disabled People's Organisations, public bodies and other partners, Independent Living in Scotland is promoting the benefits of more meaningful partnerships between public bodies and disabled people using successful case studies to inspire replications.
- Who Do I turn to? - the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability was funded by the Scottish Government to raise awareness of disability hate crime among adults with learning disabilities through an innovative play co-performed by professional actors and people with learning disabilities.
- A strategy and action plan for Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland - the Scottish Government is developing an overarching strategy in 2015 and will consider actions to support this community. 28% of this community are disabled and 15% have bad or very bad health which increases the importance for them to be able to access to health services and good quality accommodation.
- Making the most of human rights - Inclusion Scotland is providing a report to the UN on disabled people's views on implementation and monitoring of the UNCRPD. Alongside this, Inclusion Scotland is also working to raise awareness of UNCRDP amongst seldom-heard groups, along with exploring ways to increase the legal advice and representation on offer to disabled people seeking to assert their human rights.
- The Deaf Sector Partnership - the Scottish Government has provided funding of £415,000 to this partnership which is made up of five deaf organisations. The Deaf Sector Partnership will support engagement with the BSL community at national and local level so that they can make a meaningful contribution to the development of National and Authority BSL Plans. The Scottish Government is committed to continuing to fund the Deaf Sector Partnership to support implementation of the BSL (Scotland) Bill (if passed) so that it makes a lasting difference to the lives of BSL users in Scotland.
- Awareness sessions for Scottish Government staff - Sense Scotland will deliver a series of sessions to Scottish Government policy officers in 2016 to raise awareness on the principles of inclusive communication.
Email: Catherine Hewit