Speaking at today’s Disabled People’s Manifesto launch event, North Wales MS Mark Isherwood emphasised the work that still needs to be done to create a more equal, inclusive Wales for disabled people.
The event, which took place on ‘Zoom’ on the United Nations International Day of Disabled People, the annual celebration of Disabled People, included a Q&A session, which Mr Isherwood also took part in.
The theme of this year’s event was ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’, raising awareness and understanding of impairments that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing loss, autism, ADHD, learning differences, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological conditions, and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.
Speaking at the event, Mr Isherwood, who Chairs a number of Cross Party Groups in the Welsh Parliament, including those on Disability, Autism and Neurological Conditions, and is himself a hearing aid wearer said:
“As the Disability Wales “Bring Us Our Rights: The Disabled People Manifesto” being launched today states: ‘Undoubtedly Wales has made progress regarding the rights of disabled people. The social model of disability has been adopted by the Welsh Government on issues related to disabled people and the Framework for Action on Disability: the Right to Independent Living (2019) sets out its ambition to create a more equal, inclusive Wales. However, this is not translating to the everyday lives of disabled people in Wales.’
“I know from both my own casework and my work as Chair of the Cross Party Groups on Disability, Autism and Neurological Conditions, that too many Welsh Public Bodies continue to tell Disabled people what they can have, rather than work with them to agree their needs and ask them what they want to achieve, and that this is damaging, costly and entirely avoidable. This applies in particular to people with hidden impairments.
“The Social Model of Disability should be guiding everything done by service providers in all sectors, recognising that people are not disabled by their impairments, but by the barriers to access and inclusion which society places in their way – and that we must work with disabled people to remove these, seeing the world through their eyes, giving them the voice, choice, control and independence they seek and deserve.”
“Speaking in the Senedd over 2 years ago, I backed a proposal for a Bill to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons into Welsh law.
“The purpose of this Bill would be to strengthen rights-based policy approaches to promote the rights of disabled people and use the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons as a framework for future developments.
“And, as I said in the Senedd this week, the Welsh Government must “ensure that Public Bodies involve disabled people in the design, evaluation and review of services in accordance with both the Equality Act and your own legislation”.