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Politics and Inclusion – Why do we never hear from people with Learning Disabilities?
People with learning disabilities face a lot of different barriers and often struggle to get their voices heard, especially in politics and the news.
Because of this, we decided to talk to our champions about what they thought about politics and how it feels to be left out of the discussion.
In the news at the moment, lots of people are talking about big political issues such as Brexit, Trump, climate change and universal credit.
In these discussions, we have heard the opinions of lots of different politicians, businessmen and academics. We occasionally hear from ordinary people but have not heard from anyone with a learning disability .
In the past, many people thought that people with learning disabilities did not have opinions worth listening to.
They were not able to decide on their own care, where they lived or who they might want to have relationships with.
This has gotten better in recent years.
People with learning disabilities are now more included in their own care planning , and are even consulted on big policy decisions that affect people with learning disabilities.
For example, one of My Life My Choice’s trustees is the co-chair of Oxford’s transforming care partnership board.
These are really positive developments, and it is great that people with learning disabilities are beginning to be listened to, but it is still not good enough.
People with learning disabilities, like everyone else, have opinions about things other than just learning disability care.
Yet these opinions are never covered in the news or political debate.
Like everybody else, people with learning disabilities have a whole range of interests.
Some are really active on political issues while others are not that interested.
When we spoke to our champions group, they all had opinions on the big political issues of today.
For example, the group was concerned about the impact things such as Brexit might have on themselves and other vulnerable people and they were annoyed with how difficult it is for people to get their voices heard.
Many champions were also were fed up with the nasty, exclusive tone of politics. As one member, Ben said, “politics is horrible; all they do is stab each other in the back”.
Although many of these views may be similar to the rest of the population, it is important that people with learning disabilities are represented in political debate and news coverage.
People with learning disabilities have their own unique perspective and the decisions made by politicians, businessmen and academics affect them just as much as the rest of the population.
As well as this, if people with learning disabilities are not included, they will feel excluded from society.
As such, we hope that in the future, people with learning disabilities will be more included in political discussion, and we will hear their opinions in the news.
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