Last week, the Government announced its ambitions and plans to get one million disabled people into work over the next ten years. Sense cautiously welcomed this announcement knowing that this will only be successful if it has a meaningful and positive outcome for disabled people. ‘Getting people in to work’ is more than just finding a job for someone; it’s about finding the right job and disabled people getting the support they need to find work and stay in work. For this to be realised, it’s crucial that employers and job centre staff have positive attitudes and understanding of what disabled people can and want to achieve in work.
I was recently asked to run a ‘light painting’ session for people who are deafblind or have complex communication needs. As an artist and photographer, I found it interesting to think about how I would adapt the session. But what is light painting?
Sense is not alone in needing to raise awareness and understanding of who we are, so that we can reach more people. The question is how do you attract people’s attention in today’s incredibly noisy world?
Yesterday, the Government published their response to ‘Improving Lives’; a consultation they launched in October 2016. The consultation was about access to employment for disabled people – asking how the current system works, what needs changing and what ideas there might be for improving things in the future. This came alongside a pledge by the government in 2010 to halve the disability employment gap, given that in the UK less than half (48%) of disabled people are in employment compared to 80% of the non-disabled population.
Enabling someone to undertake their job effectively is both rewarding and of great responsibility. As a Communication and Support Assistant, I provide part-time support to Steven Morris, Sense’s Technology Officer, who is blind with hearing loss. I help Steven to communicate fully with colleagues and the people he supports. I balance my role with running my small business alongside being a wife and mother to two young children.
By focussing the long awaited social care green paper on one group, older people, it will be impossible to create a truly sustainable system. The Government’s green paper should take into account the broad range of people who access social care and their differing needs in its search for a long term solution.
The social care debate is all too often focused on ‘care for the elderly’. But the reality is that growing numbers of disabled younger people, often with very complex needs, are using social care at a time when the sector is under severe pressure.
As a deafblind actor, I was excited to be involved in the production of In Touch at the National Theatre.
In Touch is a show about how deafblind people go through life, the barriers they have faced as well as learning how to live with their disability. For the production, Graeae Theatre Company collaborated with the Inclusion Theatre Company from Russia.
The DeafBlind International Outdoor Network exists to create unique and exciting opportunities for people with deafblindness to explore and enjoy all aspects of outdoor living. This year’s annual gathering took place near Aalborg, Northern Denmark.
These holidays bring people with deafblindness, their support staff and families together from across Europe and this year’s event attracted people from Norway, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Scotland and England. Our group from Sense was 15 strong, consisting of six adults with deafblindness and nine people supporting.
Overall, the trip was a wonderful experience for all involved. We overcame delayed flights and a missed fishing trip in the North Sea, but there were many moments of magic and happiness.