Podcast Episode: 'We all have human rights''
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 this years’ Scottish Learning Disability Week. Scottish Learning Disability Week runs between the 2nd to the 8th of May. So, I spoke to Oonagh Brown who is the human rights program lead and Libby Clement, a digital communication advisor at the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities.
So, Libby, can you tell us a wee bit about this year’s learning Disability Week?
Libby: Of course, Michael. So, this year’s Learning Disability Week takes place from Monday the 2nd to Sunday the 8th of May and the theme is We All Have Human Rights. And this is following on from a lot of work that SCLD has been doing around human rights. I’m sure that Michael you saw our Human Rights Town App which launched last summer and we co-produce that app with a group of people with learning disabilities. And that app was really designed to help people to recognise and realise their human rights. And this is what we wanted to do with Scottish Learning Disability Week; to kind of raise awareness of the work that we’ve started but also to use it as an opportunity to explore what are human rights. Because I think it’s a term that gets banded around a lot but it’s not something that’s immediately obvious and it does apply to each of our everyday lives. So, that’s the goal with this Scottish Learning Disability Week.
Michael: And I know that the theme is We All Have Human Rights, but Oonagh has been on the podcast before and she spoke to us about the human rights Town App. Can you just remind people with a kind of overview of what the app’s about?
Oonagh: Yeah, so even going back a little bit before the app. I think one of the reasons why this theme, and why we made the app as well, is really important, is because it was last year, in 2021 that the Scottish government committed to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, into Scottish law as part of the new human rights bill for Scotland. And that’s work that’s currently underway. And because of that we thought it was really important that we helped and supported people with learning disabilities to learn more about their human rights under that convention and for the rights of persons with disabilities.
So, that was really where the concept for the app came from and we wanted to try to make rights as real as we possibly could in terms of relating them back to people’s real lived experience on a day-to-day basis. Because as Libby said sometimes human rights, when we say that term it can feel quite abstract and it can feel a bit like, oh what are you actually talking about here? So, we wanted to make sure that we could apply it to everyday things that happen to people with learning disabilities. To understand that sometimes where people are being treated badly, that those are actually violations of their human rights. And it’s something that we should be able to do something about in this country and hopefully through the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
And as Libby said, this app was made with a group of people with learning disabilities themselves; many of whom shared their direct experience to help come up with some of the scenarios in the app. Ones that stand out for me in particular are around about access to education where people are being made fun of by their school teachers in regard of their disability. And other scenarios in terms of learning disability assessment centres where people have been restrained and secluded without kind of basis for that. As well as people who have been, their supporters have been told that if they spit; to wipe that spit back on them and that was a scenario from somebody with profound multiple learning disabilities. So, it’s an app really informed by people’s lived experience and hopefully it’s kind of purpose is to show people what human rights are about so that we can work towards realising them as part of the incorporation work.
Michael: Libby, I was going to ask you why do we need to have a week for people with learning disabilities?
Libby: Well, that’s a really good question Michael. I think it’s really an awareness raising week because although you know, you and I and Oonagh and the people within the learning disability sector know what a learning disability is and know the barriers that people with learning disabilities face; not a lot of people wider than that really understand that. And I know with the pandemic and the coverage of people with learning disabilities, awareness did seep out a little bit but we’re still not where we want to be in terms of really raising awareness and raising the profile of people with learning disabilities.
Because there’s over a hundred thousand people with a learning disability in Scotland, the number’s probably much higher, you know. And it’s about raising awareness of the issues that those people face. But also, people’s achievements and the fact that ultimately people are all the same and should have the same opportunities as everybody else. And that’s why this week, you know last year we had our Relationship’s theme which kind of highlighted the barriers some people with learning disabilities face with relationships but this year it’s a much broader theme. It’s kind of highlighting how; if people know what their human rights are then they can, you know as Oonagh gave the examples of the app and people can speak up and stand up for their own human rights. And also, people in the general public, if they see the human rights of people with learning disabilities being compromised; they can also stand up and act. So, it works kind of both ways.
Michael: I suppose like Oonagh, like how you produced the human rights town app space with the development team; is it easier for people to understand? Not only people with learning disabilities but just the general public about it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a disability or not, you should all be entitled to the same as you or the next person?
Oonagh: Yeah, and so that’s really important point Michael because human rights are universal and they should be for everybody. But unfortunately, we know that people with learning disabilities in Scotland; don’t have the same opportunities to realise their human rights as much as other people. And we’ve seen that during the covid pandemic in terms of the fact that people with learning disabilities in Scotland were three times more likely to die of Covid than the rest of the population.
So, it’s really about that bit about making people see that their human rights are real and they’re something that should be realised. And as Libby said, that point about being able to stand up and really kind of actually fight for your rights. And that’s one of the things that people with learning disabilities and people who support them often see is that we’ve often always got to fight for our rights. And while that shouldn’t be the case, I think it is important that people know and understand their rights so that they can stand up for themselves. And so that we can also change legislation, policy and practice to reflect these rights and make sure that across Scotland they’re being followed and made real for people.
Michael: I that we spoke about, a few months ago, about that but what’s the feedback been like in terms of the app? Do people like the app?
Oonagh: The feedback’s been really positive in terms of the Human Rights Town App. So, we’ve had over a thousand downloads, I think last I heard it was over 1300. So, it’s averaging about a hundred downloads a month since it launched which isn’t bad. Obviously, we’d like it to have more but people’s feedback has been really positive, generally. People have been coming with ideas about how they would like to see the app develop in the future as well as commenting on it being easy to use, accessible and understandable. So, the feedback has been really positive overall. And I think what we want to do with Learning Disability Week, this year, is to promote the fact that all people with learning disabilities have human rights and to promote the app and spread the word wider.
Michael: Libby, I know that every year that you come up with, well not you yourself but a team of people comes up with a different theme. Last year, you mentioned relationships; this year it’s all about human rights. So, do you actually ask people with learning disabilities to get together and speak about the main issues that are affecting them or how does it work?
Libby: Yeah, we do. So, what we do is we have a focus group of people that we consult with and we, kind of, at every process of developing the theme, we go back to them and see what they think and feed their ideas in. And that’s how we develop the theme for Learning Disability Week. So, we take a look at the policy context and the world in which SCLD works and the learning disability sector and we always take that back to people with learning disabilities and say, does this ring true to you? Do you think this would be a good theme? If not, why not? Or if yes, why? And then, yeah, we just feed in everyone’s ideas and it’s a collaborative process so it might start with someone’s idea in the middle of the night but it then kind of grows and everyone gets involved.
Michael: I was going to say, Oonagh, in terms of the app; the Human Rights Town App, and if you haven’t done it, download it because it’s useful, but is your plan to promote it more through Learning Disability Week? And also, out with Learning Disability Week and also take it into schools and all that to raise awareness and maybe do roadshows?
Oonagh: Yeah Michael, so I think we’re really just keen to keep spreading the word as much as possible about the app and encourage people to get involved with the app. And also, hopefully that will lead to people’s engagement in terms of informing this new human rights bill for Scotland and around about the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But so yeah, we do want to promote it very much through Learning Disability Week; but also, as you say, much wider and beyond that. And we do have plans in the future to take the app into schools and colleges and do work within schools and colleges with children, young people around about the app. And also hear from them about what other things they think should maybe be covered in the app. What other kind of scenarios and situations and continue to develop the app, really from there. Because we see it as, it’s an evolving piece of work and while we’ve got, the app has 25 scenarios in it, and we would hope that in the future we would be able to expand and develop on that.
Michael: Libby, so if anybody is listening to this podcast and they want to hold an event all about human rights throughout the week; would they have to contact you to, not to get your say so or anything but just to run the idea by you and see if it fits into the criteria of human rights?
Libby: No, absolutely not. If you’re listening to this and you want to host an event for Learning Disability Week, then yeah, just go ahead and get planning. The only thing I would say is; let us know. And if you take pictures or you want us to help you to promote it; then if you let us know/ If you send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or you give us a ring on 0141 248 3733. And just let us know then we can kind of make a note of that and push it out during next month and we can also push it out on our social media channels.
Or if you want to have the event and then share the pictures and whatever happened at the event afterwards then yeah, send those in. You can send them by post; our address is on our website and it’s also in the Learning Disability - Get Involved packs which brings me nicely on to the fact that they are now all ready to go. We’ve already had orders for over half of our stock. So, if you would like a Learning Disability - Get Involved pack, which is a pack made of the information and activities which helps you to get involved in the week. It’s got things like stickers and badges and posters and easyread information in it. If you would like one of those packs then again, just email email@example.com of give us a phone on 0141 248 3733 and just let us know if you would like a pack. They’re absolutely free but they’re only available as long as stocks last and they do tend to go fast.
Michael: So, what’s the best way to, if people want to come along to some events; would it be on the SCLD website?
Libby: So, if you, just at the moment, if you keep an eye on our website; which is scld.org.uk and our social media channels on Twitter, we’re @scldnews, at Instagram @scldnews and on Facebook at Scot Commission. If you just keep an eye on our channels because in the next couple of weeks, we’re going to release an event timetable. Now, that’s only the events that we have some involvement in ourselves. There will obviously be lots more events taking place locally during Learning Disability Week. But all of those events at present are taking place online. So, yeah, if you look out for that events schedule and then most of the events you will either be able to register by Eventbrite or send us an email to book a place.
Michael: How difficult, I can’t really do a full interview now, without speaking about Covid and all that; so how difficult has it been to organise that event? Because obviously, well we started to meet up in person but if you’re organising an event like this, is it more difficult to organise because you’re not seeing people face to face?
Libby: I think we’ve kind of adapted. Because we’re kind of two years out now, aren’t we and you know we had our first LD Week 2020 in lockdown. I think that was in almost complete lockdown and all the event planning had largely been done for that so we really did just kind of move it all online. And it actually worked quite well and we do find that we can kind of reach more people online because it’s not, as I was saying before about barriers and human rights, it’s not facing that barrier to transport that a lot of people with learning disabilities face. But equally it’s professionals as well, who want to attend the events you know, we’ve had people from England and people internationally attending because everything’s moved online. This year, we kind of just said, we’re going to do it online because there’s always that element of uncertainty but it has its benefits. But I know, I for one am looking forward to real life events again but I think probably going forward, it’s always going to be hybrid for us now.
Michael: And Oonagh, just to finish about speaking about the app; have you got any more plans to make any more apps round human rights or is it a case of asking people with learning disabilities, like what they want to see in the app? Because human rights takes in a hell of a lot of different things, as we know.
Oonagh: So, I think as I said before, we would love to be able to expand the app. And we have had conversations with different organisations and groups of people with learning disabilities about what could be included in that. I think where we are at the moment is; we’ve got version one and we would really love to produce version 2. But what we need to do is; we need to secure funding for us to be able to do that. Because one of the things about apps, while they’re brilliant; they’re very expensive to make. So, I think we need to look at how we can fund that but that is our hope for the future.
Michael: Okay. Thank you and good luck for Learning Disability Week this year.
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