The Impact of Our Voice Our Rights
Launched in January 2021 our key objective was to ensure that all the major political parties in Scotland committed to a Commissioner to promote and protect the rights of autistic people and people with a learning disability within their manifestos in the lead up to the May 2021 Scottish Parliamentary Elections.
Ultimately the campaign has been very successful in that 4 of the 5 major political parties in Scotland committed to either exploring the concept further or establishing a Commissioner. Notably the SNP manifesto committed to legislating for a Commissioner as part of a new Autism, Learning Disability and Neurodiversity Bill.
Following this, there was a welcome commitment in the Programme for Government on 7th September 2021 to scope this work out during 2021-2022.
The manifesto commitments are detailed below:
Campaign Activity Included
- A leadership group of autistic people and people with a learning disability who directed the campaign and made key decisions on messaging, direction and activity.
- This bespoke website (www.OurVoiceOurRights.org) was developed and encouraged people to get involved in the campaign.
- An email action for supporters to take which allowed them to email a personalised message to each of the party leaders - 1500 people took part in this.
- A suite of 8 campaign videos were developed, that included the lived experience of autistic people and people with a learning disability and their families.
- A 'how to campaign online' guide was developed that included tips on engaging with local political candidates.
- Autistic people and people with a learning disability were supported to campaign online using the hashtag #OurVoiceOurRights
- We organised fringe events at the political party conferences as well as husting style Q&A events both at a national and local level. All events included autistic speakers and speakers with a learning disability.
- Successfully secured wide media coverage across TV, online, radio and print demonstrating the need for a Commissioner
- BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-55809339
- The Herald: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/19041709.call-worlds-first-commissioner-champion-rights-people-autism-learning-disabilities/
- The Scotsman: https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/its-time-scotland-stopped-ignoring-human-rights-people-autism-nick-ward-3121416
While we are really pleased with the outcome of the campaign there is still much work to be done.
We are committed to keeping the pressure up on Government and Politicians to make sure they make good on their commitment to introduce a Commissioner which we believe will make a huge difference to the lives of autistic people and people with a learning disability.
The campaign has sparked a debate about how we bring about positive change and has also led to many discussions and in some cases disagreements on the scope, role and remit of a commissioner. It's important now that policy makers listen to all those voices as part of their scoping before moving forward with the proposed Bill.