Blog by Gary Bourlet, self advocate and Membership and Engagement Lead for Learning Disability England
I think it is quite clear there is a lack of understanding from ministers and government officials about accessible information and the importance of it for so many people.
People with learning disabilities and/or autism need guidance about face coverings, DNR, Covid 19 testing, Shielding, Vaccine etc.
They rely on it just like the rest of us, but often need it in an easy read format.
Right now, the information and guidance is changing so rapidly that this needs to be in easy read on the day new guidance is issued, not 2 weeks later or more.
At the moment even when easy read does come out, it is often far too late to even be useful or needed by most people as things have changed again.
I think lots of people believe that those with a learning disability or autism will have a support worker who can interpret guidance for them.
It is misinformation like this that I think is the reason for accessible information not being seen as more of a priority.
In fact most live independently, so it is up to them to try and make sense of the information they have, often alone.
It is not just the needs of people with learning disabilities and/or autism being ignored either. There is also a lack of interpreters doing sign language BSL and Makaton when guidance is presented on TV.
This means people with sight or hearing loss are often unable to keep informed on updates as they come out.
Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland are already doing this, but England is falling short. We have the Accessible Information Standards. The legislation about Accessible Information is in place.
So why is the government not sticking to them at such an important time?
I would love to see people with learning disabilities and/or autism going on TV to ask ministers about these issues. It would be good to see more people with a learning disability and/or autism on TV in general and not just because of their disability.
Learning Disability England is currently working alongside others from different organisations to try and make accessible information be seen as more of a priority. This includes supporting the campaign led by self advocacy groups
We told people in government what is needed and why. So far not much progress has been made but I am hopeful this campaign led by self advocates will have some impact.