I’m just going to point out that this is meant for some point in the future, and I am not committing to joining any party at the minute.
But I am just going to let you know that the first part of this blog was written this at 13 minutes past 5pm on the 7th of May 2022, and in this, I will lay out what I will campaign for, when I do eventually take the decision to run.
For Every Day Technology to Be Added into The Disability Discrimination Act
Although I haven’t been disabled for all of my life, I have been for most of my life. I can remember clearly when growing up, asking if I could play video games with my brother and are friends, and being told no, — not because my parents had anything against me doing so — but because I was disabled.
This went on until late 2018, when Microsoft finally released the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which — although it has proved to be an inclusive bit of technology since its release, should have come out a long time before it actually did.
But the same company also faced a situation a couple of years before when they closed the doors of their premises on disabled people who wanted to question them about becoming more accessible in the early 2010s.
Though they have changed their mind since, their past history hasn’t been erased, and thousands of other Technology Companies have been able to continue creating technology that has been inaccessible as well, even to the modern day.
Therefore, I would campaign for every day technology to be added to the Disability Discrimination Act, so no other disabled child has to go 18 years feeling like they can’t enjoy the same technology as their siblings and their friends.
For Legislation to be Passed So Blue Badges are Counted as Acceptable forms of ID again, and for dates of births to be added to them
I went down to vote in the 5th of May Northern Ireland Assembly Election in 2022, but ended up being denied my vote due to my passport not arriving, and because a decision had been made by the UK government not to accept Blue Badges anymore, because the cards don’t have dates of birth displayed on them.
For this reason, I would campaign for dates of birth to be displayed on a Blue Badge.
I would also fight for legislation to be passed so that if a disabled person can’t show a passport, a Translink pass, or a Driver’s License, it is perfectly acceptable to show a Blue Badge.
Furthermore, I would then campaign that if someone tries to remove Blue Badges, they will be met with legal action the extent of which they have never seen before.
I Would Downsize The Disability Umbrella So it Differentiates Between Those Who are Disabled and Those with Mental Health Issues
Every disabled person should be taken seriously, and — being disabled myself — I understand how frustrating it is when we have to wait for anything.
I also know people with invisible disabilities, such as blindness, deafness, mild learning disabilities, extreme learning disabilities, epilepsy etc face face numerous barriers, which all need to be addressed and should stop.
And there is also clear evidence that children and adults are waiting for ages to get an Autism diagnosis.
We also know that the health service is under extreme pressure.
So what I would campaign for is a Disabled People Fund, consisting of money which will go towards people with Physical disabilities, as well as including people with Invisible Disabilities such as:
- Blindness (and colour blindness)
- Mild Learning Disabilities (Autism, Dyslexia, etc)
- Extreme Learning / Mental Disabilities
However, I would also campaign for a Mental Health Fund, which will include every single Mental Health Disorder under it. I believe this would be a good way forward because — without causing any disrespect to anyone who has Depression — it is one of the many mental health disorders that anyone could say they have, which makes it even the more harder for people who actually have it.
A Single-Integrated Education Status
Of course everyone agrees that we should educate children together. But there are some Single Education schools in Northern Ireland which are integrated, as I would know as someone who went to St Columbanus’ College — a Catholic Maintained High School in Bangor, but which takes Catholics as well as Protestants, as well as Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and every other background, as well as Atheists.
I would campaign for the Single Education Schools who do take a wide range of religions and backgrounds a joint Single-Integrated status, so it is easy to differentiate between the schools that are strictly controlled, and the ones who are single education schools but do have a diverse range of backgrounds in them.
Reforming the Special school Education system so that students who are capable of doing non-equivalent GCSEs can do so
Yes; Special Schools do have to exist. And as much as I had a bad experience in the one I went to at the start of my education before moving into Mainstream Education where I spent the rest of my schooling (which I had a very good experience in), I do see a reason why both systems have to exist.
However, I am firmly of the opinion that physically disabled children who are not mentally disabled should not be in the Special School system, and if their parents think it’s best for their kids to still go to a Special School, they should be split into two groups when it comes to kids doing their GCSEs: one for those who are capable of doing proper GCSEs, and those who are capable of doing equivalents.
I know people who went to the Special School I went to for their entire education, all of whom who by all means, had a brilliant time, but the majority of whom have found it difficult getting into university and Further Education Colleges, because they only studied Equivalents for their GCSEs and A Levels, which they’ve been told are unrecognisable. A lot of them have then had to redo them as soon as they apply for Further Education Colleges, and also find it difficult finding a job.
But equally, there are some horror stories you hear about disabled kids in mainstream settings, and by all means, there are some kids who should be doing equivalents.
Employment of Disabled People
I would campaign for more funding for disabled people to get into employment, and create jobs such as a Disabled Access Checker and a Disability Advisor, where Disabled People would be paid to go out and check that houses, public buildings / holiday resorts and Community Groups have the correct disabled access.
Introducing Accessibility Into the Curriculum
Everything starts with education. But accessibility must have been covered so little in the past few years, because houses are still being made with steps, technology is still being made in a way that is inaccessible, and tourist attractions are also becoming even more inaccessible.
For that reason, I would like accessibility to be introduced into the curriculum — with Primary School children learning about accessibility, and the different types of discrimination that disabled children and adults face — and Secondary School kids learning how to make everything in life accessible, with modules to give them experience making something for a disabled person in their community as well.
Further / Higher Education
I would include accessibility discussions in Higher and Further Education as well, with paid work placements offered as well, for students helping to make something accessible for a disabled person.
I would also increase funding in Northern Ireland Tourist Attractions, Technology Companies, Engineering Companies, Theatres and Building Companies to offer Apprenticeships / Trainee Schemes in these areas as well, so they can get people who will make the entire country accessible.
Reforming The Health Service
I would reform the Health Service so that whoever takes over managing a practice or hospital has to have previously gotten a qualification in Business, has experience of running their own business, or has come from the same background as someone who ran their own business.
I think the NHS also has the right to charge people who have misused the system, whether it means putting that money into the Health Service or putting it towards staff workers’ pay.