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29th May 2014

Stepping up to the challenge – part one

Stepping up to the challenge – part oneIts all very well talking about equality and rights for our service users, but do we really offer people with learning disability the chance to represent themselves? These exceptional individuals are flying the flag for independence. Could someone you support be given the chance to speak up for their cause?

Scott started it for me

I blogged before about a young man I met called Scott Watkin, who has learning disabilities and visual impairments and is working with a number of organisations to raise awareness of the need to promote eye health in this group. Scott blew me away with his confidence and passion, but he was such a rare beast and I wondered why more people with special needs weren’t prominent in the public eye.

Household name of the future?

A chance Facebook post this week shared information about the wonderful young actress Sarah Gordy who you may have seen in the BBC series ‘Call The Midwife.’ Sarah has Downs Syndrome and has been an advocate of the cause for more people with learning disabilities in the performing arts in a career on TV film and stage. Her observations are telling and she has a remarkable awareness of herself and her world. Read about Sarah at

Banging his own drum

When it comes to being in the public eye, disability activist Gary Bourlet is clear; people with learning disabilities need to be supported to speak up for themselves and be heard. Gary was a co-founder of the charity People First England, which sets out to help people with a learning disability represent themselves in politics and the media, rather than have others do it for them.

Gary feels that its not enough that people with learning disability are being represented by the professionals supporting them or by large pressure groups in which they are passive participants. He wants more people to get involved in furthering the cause of people with disabilities, through parliamentary lobbying and public speaking, for example. Gary has a message for people that says they should follow their dreams and be part of their own life journey. More about Gary in this article:

Gary has also written an excellent piece for Learning Disability Today magazine this month; subscribe at

I set out to blog about extraordinary people with learning disability making a difference to their world. I am happy to report that this week I ran out of words before I ran out of people, so this is part one of a series – next time I will share some more good news!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Ginny Tyler

Learning Disabilities Specialist

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