Transcript: Human Rights Town

An app to help people with learning disabilities understand their human rights

Podcast Episode: Human Rights Town

Category: Disability 


What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.

Michael: On this podcast, I went to find out about a new App that has been launched called the Human Rights Town App. It has been designed by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability and also people with lived experience. So, I went to find out more about this App. I spoke to Oonagh Brown, who is the Human Rights Advisor of the Commission and also, I spoke to Fiona (… unclear) of the App team.

So, Oonagh, take us back to the start when SCLD, the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability, had the idea about the App.

Oonagh: Yeah, thanks Michael. So it was … it feels like a very long time ago that we first started thinking about the App. Way back before the pandemic, we had had conversations about how we made information about human rights and in particular the rights of persons with disabilities, under the United Nations Convention, relevant and accessible to people with learning disabilities in Scotland. We were very aware that there’s a lot of information about human rights out in the world but not all of it is particularly accessible to people with learning disabilities. And we wanted to find an engaging way to have those conversations about human rights and about how we can ensure that people with learning disabilities have their human rights realised in Scotland. And one of the ways that we did that was through a facilitation tool that we used which was like a … it was on like a big sheet of yellow paper, massive thing. We used to draw like different parts of a town on it and we would use that to have conversations with people at meetings about their human rights and their experiences and we found it quite an effective tool for having those conversations.

So, we had went away and we had thought about, oh maybe we’d make a board game and people could use it at meetings and things to help facilitate discussions. And then the Coronavirus pandemic happened, so we thought that an App would actually be a better idea, with everybody on technology and engaging through Zoom and things like that. So that was really how we came up with the idea of the App, but what’s central to it is about making sure that people with learning disabilities have the opportunity, and become empowered, to recognise and realise their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And that’s particularly important given that last, I think it was, March 2021, the National Taskforce on Human Rights Leadership has recommended that in Scotland, we incorporate the UNCRPD into Scottish law. So, that’s why it’s really important and really timely that we’ve done it now.

Michael: Yeah, so Fiona, what did you think when SCLD wanted you to get involved in designing the App? So, how did you feel about that?

Fiona: Well, I’ve always wanted to get involved in something good in my life. I’m glad that SCLD has got me involved. I feel that this is something that I feel personally strong about. As well as me being a part of this, is great something that would change people’s lives.

Michael: So, tell me Fiona, and obviously Oonagh as well. But why was it important to have an App for people with learning disabilities?

Fiona: For people with disabilities, it’s really important to have an App where it’s a functional and it’s on their devices, like an iPad and iPhones and etc. It’s practical and easy to use. It’s to make them to realise and to understand their human rights. It will give them a chance in life and then change ways to happen. The App does have a purpose, it will give them freedom and to use it properly.

Michael: And what about yourself, Oonagh?

Oonagh: I mean, I think Fiona said all that really well there and I agree with that. And I think as well, why it’s important to have this App is it is an accessible way to understand human rights which puts it in a context that relates it back to the experiences of people’s lives. And I think that’s one of the things that’s really important about the App is that it was designed by people with learning disabilities who helped to come up with the stories. A number of which are based on people’s real-life experiences. And what we hope that this App will do, is it will allow people to understand their rights, recognise when they’re not being realised and empower them to bring challenges to that when needed. So, I think that’s why it’s an important tool for people.

Michael: And also how important was it to get people involved in like the whole development of the App as well?

Oonagh: So, that was the most important thing about making the App, to be honest with you. From the get go we knew that we wanted people with learning disabilities to lead this work and to take it as their own. And really that’s what’s happened, the App development group, including Fiona and many other people, have really taken this bit of work and ran with it. And we really wanted to make sure it was, as I’ve said, based on lived experience as much as possible. And designed and put into the world by people with learning disabilities. And I think that’s actually what makes this App unique and something worth shouting about really because I think it is that lived experience which is what makes it such a useful and powerful tool.

Michael: So, Fiona as well, obviously the App’s available now to download on their phones but do you want people to take away from using the App? What kind of message do you want people to take away and maybe recommend it to more people with learning disabilities to use?

Fiona: Knowledge of their human rights. For them to have choices and decisions of their own. And to have freedom when going out and about. Something that they can relate to and its there on their device. If something goes wrong and they need help, the help is always out there for everyone and that does include people with disabilities.

Michael: And what about yourself, Oonagh, would that be the same?

Oonagh: Yeah, I think for me there’s a kind of two-part answer to this question. I guess for the people who’ve been involved in the App development group and have really led this project, what I want them to take away from it is that sense of accomplishment in terms of the leadership that they’ve all shown in terms of delivering this Application and also facilitating and leading the launch event that we had on the 30th.

For people with learning disabilities who use the App, what we really want people to get from this is a sense of empowerment, a sense of knowledge and understanding around their human rights so that they can stand up for their rights and challenge people when their rights are not being met. So, you can say, hold on a minute, you’re not meeting my human rights here and let’s do something about this. And I think that for me is what we really want to see coming out of this App for people with learning disabilities.

Michael: And I think as well, that it’s important that people learn about their human rights but in a fun kind of way as well. And I think that’s what brings it to life a wee bit in this kind of App.

Oonagh: Yeah, I totally agree with you and I think that was one of the things that we were really keen and we spoke to the publishing bureau, who helped make the App, about was that we didn’t want it to be this kind of dreary, boring, big written document. We wanted it to be like as engaging and as fun as possible and I’m glad to hear you say that Michael, because I’m glad that we achieved that.

Michael: So, what has the feedback been like about the App? I know we’re doing this interview a week into the launch because I was there back on the 30th as well but do you know how many people have downloaded the App yet? So, what has the feedback been like in general for people?

Fiona: So, I’ve had feedback from the PLPP, the People-Led Policy Panel, and the National Involvement Network. They all thought it was great work and well worth it. It’s all about team work and this App will be fully useful and practical for others. We can all be proud together as a whole group.

Michael: And it must have felt brilliant for you Fiona, not only being involved, but being a part of the first ever App of that kind maybe in Scotland but I’m not so sure about the UK but definitely Scotland as well, so you must have felt very happy about it, Fiona?

Fiona: I do feel very, very happy. It really, it makes me want to smile.

Michael: Oonagh, it must have been brilliant for yourself but also the team at SCLD, kind of like designing that as well?

Oonagh: Yeah, I say this to Fiona and the App development group all the time, that working on the Human Rights Town App has been one of my favourite bits of work ever and I’ve really enjoyed it. And the reason why I’ve enjoyed it so much is because of all the work of the App development group who’ve worked really hard, who have led the project and delivered it so well. And it’s just been a real privilege to work alongside the App development group on it.

And in terms of the feedback, I really think the feedback highlights the amazing work that everyone has done on the project because we’ve actually been overwhelmed with positive feedback since the App launch coming from organisations across Scotland as well as the wider world. We’ve had emails from people in America about it, we’ve had. So, it’s been really positive and well received. I think at the moment, we’re just over 200 downloads but that’s just the beginning so, we’re working, we’re working up and I’ll need to keep an eye on how many people download it. But we’ll get there.

Michael: And obviously there was a need for it, Fiona, because I remember at the launch and now, we’ve been to a lot of Zoom events but I was saying to my colleagues as well that I haven’t been to a Zoom event where you have 7 screens where you kind of go back and forth. So, I think there was what, 115 at that launch, so that shows you that there’s a need for this kind of App, Fiona.

Fiona: Yeah, and it’s great to have a huge number being at the launch event. It just makes the atmosphere brilliant and electric. And all the hard work we’ve put in for the App, it’s been brilliant. It was so well worth it.

Michael: Now, you know what’s going to happen next, (… unclear) SCLD has made their first App, and when is the next five Apps coming?

Oonagh: So, that’s a very good point Michael. This is something we talked about at the App launch because what was quite good about the App launch was while everyone was there to see the launch we were also overwhelmed with ideas for the development of the App in the future. And I think that showed a real excitement and passion for the project and people were making suggestions about different scenarios that could be added and things. And I think we are looking towards, in the future, getting a version, Human Rights Town Version 2 out where we’ll have more scenarios and we’ll develop it. But that’s coming down the line, maybe give us a few months.

Michael: Yeah, yeah. What about, finally, if people want to download the App, Fiona, how can they do that?

Fiona: Well they can download it from the Apple Store and from Google Play. So, it’s for all the devices, for iPads, iPhones and etc.

Michael: And do you know anybody out with SCLD, Fiona, that has used the App or have you recommended it to anyone?

Fiona: At the moment I haven’t yet but I am planning to.

Michael: Yeah, yeah. Do a sales pitch for the App.

Fiona: Yes.

Michael: Oonagh’s nodding her head there, saying, yeah, you better do that.

Oonagh: Yeah, get it out there and get it promoted.

Fiona: Well, I must admit because my drama group I go to, called Centre Stage, because I’m with the Aspire group, and its people with disabilities, so a lot of people there will be so interested in this, so much. And they would definitely download it.

Michael: Okay, well thanks for your time and good luck with the App and hopefully more people will download the App on their phones now. So, thanks for your time.

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