In 2015, Sense undertook a Public Inquiry into the provision of play opportunities for children aged 0-5 with multiple needs in England and Wales. We found that disabled children have significantly fewer opportunities to access play settings and activities than their non-disabled peers. Parents also told us that they need more support to learn the best ways to engage their child in play. In fact, this is the most common request received by our Children’s Specialist Services Team (CSS).
In response to these findings we worked closely to produce two play toolkits: one for parents of children with multiple needs and one for play settings, available in English and Welsh.
When there is involvement and meaningful participation of those with direct experience, public policy will be more effective. However, crucially participation will only ever be meaningful if it is inclusive and accessible.
The passing of the Care Act in 2015 has been a significant achievement. Replacing most of the previous social care laws in England, it aims to put people in control of their support. Achieved with effective involvement of deafblind people, it strengthens the rights of deafblind people in relation to social care assessments and care planning.
After the first year of implementation, we wanted to know how well the Care Act has been working for deafblind people and their families. We spoke with Sense’s Legal Team, a Sense Assessment and Advice Officers, and a Community Manager. We also made contact with a small group of deafblind people.
Whilst the passing of the law has undoubtedly been a significant step forward, we found some troubling trends which highlight barriers in its implementation:
Last week, The Disability Partnership (Sense, Mencap, Scope, and the National Autistic Society) hosted the last Meaningful Participation for Disabled People Event in partnership with NHS England. The events have been successful in not only highlighting the importance of involving disabled people in health and social care policy, but also enabling a space in which to do this. This time, it was held in Liverpool with involvement from NHS England’s Learning Disabilities Engagement Team.
I have always been interested in politics and I have voted in elections whenever I have been able to. But, as someone with a dual sensory impairment, I have had some frustrations trying to do it. Before elections, obtaining information about candidates needs to be easier. I have been disappointed with the lack of accessible information. I have received only two leaflets from political parties and have only got the chance to speak to one political candidate.
Living label free, eye transplants, face recognition software in our homes…. These are just a few of the things Deafblind Cymru’s Neath social group told me they would like to see made possible in 60 years’ time to improve the lives of deafblind people.
Have you ever wondered what the world might be like in 60 years’ time?
This year, Sense is turning 60. As part of our 60th anniversary year, we’re not only looking back to celebrate how far we’ve come but we’re looking forward another 60 years to think about how much better our world could be for deafblind people. Sense is asking deafblind people, their families and supporters: What is your 60:60 Vision?
I want to make sure we hear Welsh voices in these visions so this year I’ll be reaching out to deafblind people in Wales and Sense Cymru activists to help you develop your visions of the future.
Once upon a time, my sole ambition was to become an astronaut. Fuelled by an overdose of scifi books and films beamed at me by my older brother, I engineered my spaceship out of discarded kitchen worktop and spare car parts; it even had its own hydroponics system. For most of the summer holiday, I travelled in it, across the universe, in a space oddity that only a nerdy six year old with an overactive imagination could dream up.
When my brother gleefully tried to shatter my dreams by informing me that I could never be an astronaut, I zapped him with my super-powered laser, which consisted of a washing up liquid bottle filled with cold water. My obsession with becoming an astronaut was short lived, which is just as well: my brother was right, my impairments did mean I could never become one. Or, so I thought, until I came across this article in the Guardian about the likely psychological impacts of the Mars One mission, concluded that my life is remarkably like that of an astronaut and that, therefore, deafblind people would make perfect astronauts.