A Festive Thank You!
Dear Members, Access Panels, funders, and partners
As we wrap up another year, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for your invaluable contributions. This year holds special significance as Disability Equality Scotland proudly celebrated our 20th Anniversary as a National Disabled People’s Organisation. Through your active participation, feedback, and engagement, you have propelled the mission of equality and inclusion for disabled people in Scotland.
This was recognised at our 20th Anniversary Celebration Event that we hosted in September. We were privileged to welcome Emma Roddick, Minister of Equalities, Migration, and Refugees, as our keynote speaker. Ms. Roddick acknowledged the achievements of Disability Equality Scotland throughout the years, highlighting the importance of members, Access Panels and our involvement in broader projects.
When reflecting on this year, Disability Equality Scotland has continued to grow as an organisation. We have welcomed new members of staff and directors. We have also made excellent progress across various project areas:
- Access Panels continue to play a vital role in improving access and inclusion for disabled people in communities across Scotland.
- The Access team successfully set up new Access Panels in Helensburgh, South Ayrshire, and East Lothian.
- A series of training, development and networking sessions took place throughout the year. The purpose was to ensure that Access Panels gain maximum benefit from opportunities to collaborate with local authorities, public bodies, and private enterprises.
- We are developing an updated engagement programme for our organisational members.
- An initial survey was launched in November, and one to one sessions will take place in the new year to help co-create compelling benefits to gain maximum impact.
- We continue to deliver our successful CPD accredited Easy Read training course and it has been undertaken by people from a wide range of organisations.
- We launched a new Inclusive Communication Awareness training course and have plans for it to grow.
- We delivered a pilot of our Hate Crime Awareness training to the Pickaquoy Centre in Orkney and have recruited a specialist trainer in this field who will develop further Hate Crime Awareness training materials for delivery in 2024.
- Our Easy Read team has been busier than ever with lots of requests for documents to be converted into the accessible Easy Read format.
- We launched a Scottish Parliament petition urging the Scottish Government to introduce new legal requirements on retailers to provide braille labelling on food products. The petition remains open for consideration and has received 1,388 signatures.
- A final report was produced for the Scottish Government, concerning the Face Covering Exemption Project.
- Production of a report for the Scottish Government – following a poll – concerning Transport to Health.
- Member-led research led to a robust response to the UK Government/Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) consultation concerning Work Capability Assessment.
- The staging of consultations (both polls and online events) concerning the review of the Accessible Travel Framework
- We submitted the Accessible Travel Framework Review Report to Transport Scotland.
- We staged a Transport to Health online consultation event, supporting the Scottish Government.
Bridging the Gap
As we look forward to the coming year, we remain grateful for your ongoing support. We recently launched our new 5 Year Strategy which has a focus on bridging the gap:
- Between disabled people and society;
- Between national policy and local implementation;
- Between raising awareness of inclusivity and accessibility; and
- Challenging the status quo that excludes us from being part of our communities.
Look out for engagement events in the new year which will help feed into the new strategy. Disability Equality Scotland is only as strong as its members and your involvement continues to make a meaningful impact.
Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year!
Lyn Pornaro, Chief Executive Officer and Kayla-Megan Burns, Convener
Please note that the Disability Equality Scotland office will close for the Christmas break from Friday 22 December 2023 and will re-open again on Thursday 4 January 2024.