Our top Twitter and Facebook moments of 2013

As we get ready to bring in the New Year we’ve been looking back at what we achieved with your support in 2013. Here are some of the top Twitter and Facebook moments from 2013 that got you liking, commenting and retweeting.

Celebrating achievements

Jack Caroll - text reads: Good luck Jack!

Two of our most popular Facebook posts were about the achievements of two young people with Cerebral Palsy. 14-year-old Jack Carroll hit the headlines in May when he came second in the final of Britain’s Got Talent with his comedy. Our good luck message on Facebook got over 2,000 likes.

In November we shared the news that seven-year-old Holly had been chosen to model in a new campaign for Boden clothing. Holly and her great achievement received over 1,200 likes.

Campaigning and influencing the Government

When MPs started debating the Children and Families Bill in February we wanted to make sure disabled children were not forgotten by Michael Gove, the Secretary for Education. Almost 200 people joined our Thunderclap and thousands of you used the hashtag on Twitter #GoveUsABreak which helped get the message to over 4 million Twitter accounts!

More recently, many of you shared stories of how your child had been excluded from activities in your local area on Facebook. Read the latest news on the Bill from the Council For Disabled Children.

Woman with post-it on mouth which reads: I care

We’ve also been campaigning about social care this year. Our Britain Cares campaign asked people to send in a photo to show that they care about social care for disabled people. Thousands of you have sent in photos, shared the campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and our YouTube video has now had over 180,000 views.

In October, with the Care Bill going through Parliament, we joined with other charities in the Care and Support Alliance to ask “What do you do with yours?” and raise awareness for the importance of social care.

Challenging attitudes towards disabled people

The #HeardWhilstDisabled hashtag is used to share some of the things said to, or overheard by, disabled people. BBC Ouch wrote an excellent story about the hashtag with some of the worst examples such as “Isn’t it lovely to see them out and about?”.

This tweet was sent following the Panorama expose on the Work Programme. Panorama reported that disabled people were referred to as LTBs – lying, thieving bastards. We spoke out about how completely unacceptable this was. Read our full response to Panorama.

In February we were outraged when Councillor Collin Brewer said that “disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down.” Hundreds of you shared the news, commented on the story and were pleased when we shared the news of his resignation shortly afterwards.

Raising awareness

We’ve also been using Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness for impairments and conditions such as Down Syndrome, Autism and Cerebral Palsy.

For World Down Syndrome Day in March our post sharing Sarah and Phillip’s story on Facebook reached nearly 35,500 people.

For World Autism Awareness day in April we shared a post from Ambitious about Autism asking people to share what ‘Autism is’ to them. Thanks to the support of Keith Duffy, we potentially reached almost 300,000 people on Twitter. 

And for World Cerebral Palsy Day in October we asked you what you thought everyone should know about Cerebral Palsy and summarised your responses in a blog which has been read over 7,000 times.

Thank you for all your support in 2013. If you don’t already you can follow us on Twitter, subscribe to us on YouTube and like us on Facebook.

Top 5 videos challenging attitudes to disability in 2013

As the year draws to a close, we’ve been looking back at the videos which got people talking about disability in 2013. Here are our top 5.

What have we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

#BornRisky Alternative Voices

Channel 4 recruited five people with communication difficulties to join their continuity team in December.  “An estimated 2.5 million people in the UK have some kind of communication impairment. We want to give them a platform and normalise the presence of disabled people on TV by adding fresh, representative voices to the rich diversity of our existing pool of announcers.” Find out more about the campaign and read our guest post from one of the announcers.

Five-year-old signs for parents

Claire Koch from America got the internet smiling when she was filmed enthusiastically signing for her deaf parents during her school Christmas carol performance so that they could fully enjoy it. The film has now been viewed by over 6.3 million people.

Britain’s Got Talent

Jack Carroll, a 14 year old with cerebral palsy, made it all the way to the Britain’s Got Talent final with his unique stand-up comedy style. Unfortunately he didn’t win, but with over 7.1 million views, we’re sure he has a great future in comedy ahead of him.

Guinness advert

A recent Guinness advert has received over 7.8 million views. It’s shows a group playing wheelchair basketball with a great twist at the end. See it for yourself.

People with disabilities react to mannequins

Pro Infirmis, a Swiss disability advocacy organisation created this video showing disabled mannequins as part of their campaign for International Day for People with Disabilities. This beautiful video has received over 8.4 million views.

Here at Scope we’ve been busy creating some fantastic videos too. Our videos about a young disabled girl’s experiences of bullying and of a mother sharing her experiences of caring for two autistic sons shocked many and prompted others to share their own similar stories. We met some inspiration people like Jamie who attended our school in Wales and Brett who ran the Brighton Marathon whilst pushing his son in a wheelchair! We’ve been supported by a number of celebrities; Arabella Weir and Rory Kinnear helped us talk about fostering disabled children; our Britain Cares video was voiced by Stephen Fry; and Paralympian Sophie Christiansen spoke to us about the Paralympics legacy

10 tips for parents and carers this Christmas

Guest post by Emma from Netbuddy. Next year Netbuddy will be joining Scope.

The festive season can be a stressful time, especially if someone in your family has learning difficulties or autism. So, to help you put the fun back into Christmas, we’ve pulled together these tips from parents and carers. Download all the tips in a PDF (731KB).

Christmas presents

English: Gift ideas for men - wrapping paper e...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. A few of my favourite things – Wrap up some old favourite toys as Christmas presents if your child is not keen on opening presents as they have new and unfamiliar things in them. You can secretly hide some favourite things in the weeks leading up to Christmas – sometimes unwrapping something familiar is very reassuring!

2. Use foil – Foil is an excellent wrapping paper. It is very sensory and makes for an easy to open present!

3. Ribbon for wrapping paper – Instead of using wrapping paper, I wrapped a present in a piece of material and tied with a ribbon. Once the ribbon was in person’s hand she pulled and hey presto, she had unwrapped it herself!

Christmas decorations

English: Artificial Christmas tree with lights...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Decorations outside of the house – If your child can’t cope with decorations being on the outside of the house, try telling them that the house is getting dressed up for Christmas!

5. A sensory tree – We have sensory items on our Christmas tree. Different textures, smells and things that make sounds – so the little girl I look after with a visual impairment can enjoy it too!

Christmas visitors

6. Preparing for a crowded house – I’ve started to prepare my son for a crowded house at Christmas by inviting his friends around for Sunday Club and making a party for the family to have dinner or a disco. Announce visitors on your child’s visual timetable. Allow quiet time if he/she needs to step out.

7. Talk to family members – Talk to family members ahead of time. Discuss your child’s specific needs, and gently but firmly tell them what your plans are. Be sure to let them know that this will make the whole experience better for everyone. Ask for their support.

8. Prepare a calm place – I used to worry about Dan’s behaviour when spending time at family member’s homes over the festive season. Basically, I’d take him and hope for the best! However, I’ve found that planning and preparation in advance hugely helps. I work with my family and we make sure we have a calm room or a space he can go to for when it all gets too much. I put his favourite blanket in there. Having some time alone, or just with me keeps meltdowns to a minimum.

The excitement

Girl unwrapping presents

9. Spread out the presents – Don’t feel that all the presents have to be opened on Christmas morning in the traditional way. Our son would get so overwhelmed he couldn’t cope so it was much easier to allow him a few gifts at a time throughout Christmas Day and Boxing Day. He opened them all in the end without any tantrums and was much calmer and happier, meaning we all had a far more enjoyable time!

10. Stay Calm! – If your child reacts badly to stress, staying relaxed and low-key over the Christmas period is one of the best things you can do to keep your child’s behavior in line. Save the tantrum (yours) for when you get home.

What are your top tips for Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.

People like me should have a voice #BornRisky

Guest post from Kate Caryer. Kate is one of five people with communication difficulties who have joined Channel 4’s continuity team this December, to introduce some of the channel’s biggest shows.

Along with brain surgery, bar maiding and ballet dancing, continuity announcing was a career I had never considered suitable for me, as a person with athetoid cerebral palsy and no speech.   However, along with four colleagues-turned-mates, each with different communication impairments, I’ve joined Channel 4’s continuity announcers for 10 days in December!

To get some idea what I am on about, watch me here introducing my all time favourite show, The Simpsons:

I am on a mission to tell the world that people like me should have a voice! Being a continuity announcer fits right in with this aim I think!

So how did the Channel 4 thing come up? Well, I entered a singing competition!!!

As I can’t speak, let alone sing, I was told to go away!  So I decided to give this continuity announcing lark a try!  (Only joking.)

Actually what occurred is that the clever minds who came up with the idea of having voices from people with different communication difficulties announcing their peak-time shows, contacted organisations and charities that work with such people. This included Communication Matters, which is an organisation that is about AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) – or other means of communicating for people without clear speech. They share my passion for greater awareness of communication aids and non-speech communication.

The chairwoman contacted me about this possible opportunity and I absolutely loved the concept!!  (I would love the idea even if I wasn’t involved!)  

I was asked to do a screen test at Channel 4 in September which was really exciting! Due to the uncertainty of the project (at this stage, it was just a good idea) I was sworn to secrecy.   I wanted to tell absolutely everyone, especially the people at the Communication Matters conference in September that I attended just a matter of days before I went to Channel 4 for the first time!

By coincidence, at that Conference I delivered a presentation and discussion on the media portrayal of AAC users.  Like most disability media portrayal (Paralympics excepted – thank you Channel 4) it is often pretty dire and full of pity for the so-called ‘victims’ of impairment.  It was agreed that AAC users should be shown in the media doing things other than simply being an AAC user.

This is exactly what Channel 4 is hoping to achieve with this project when they say, “we want to give them a platform and normalise the presence of disabled people on TV by adding fresh, representative voices to the rich diversity of our existing pool of announcers.”

I have no speech at all so I use a communication aid called a Pathfinder.  I am lucky I am able to use a keyboard to work a special programme that uses icons to speed up communication. However there are many communication aids meeting the needs of most people who can’t speak, whatever the level of their physical skill. That I use a communication aid has become a matter of fact to me, my family and friends. What is interesting is how unknown people react to me using, what seems to them, a magic box.  I must say the reactions have been odd, not down-right negative fortunately, like when I go to quiz nights everyone wants to be on my team because they assume my communication aid can magically get all the right answers!!

The great thing about Channel 4 is that we were treated like any continuity announcer, so we wrote our own scripts; hence you would hear our own voices, albeit mine with some fantastic tweaks from the Wonderful Wendy who worked as hard as me programming my communication aid to sound fantastic!

The Wonderful Wendy is one of my partners on the Unspoken Project, a theatre project where the issue of communication is at the centre. This is important because, like television and other media, we think the world of drama rarely gives voice to people with communication difficulties and we want to change this. We hope to do this by a number of ways.

One of our plans is to produce a play where the main voice is from a young woman who has no speech. We want to tell the unspoken story of her getting a voice and coming of age. At the moment we are holding variety nights on 25 January and 18 March at Tottenham Chances, 399 High Road, London, N17 6QN. Entry is £7. All proceeds will go towards the Unspoken theatre project.

The nights put all kinds of voices in the limelight. If you would love to perform on one of our nights, we would be delighted to hear from you! Also we are always looking for audience members to come to our January and March shows.  You can contact us by e-mail unspokenprojectaac@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook – watch this space for our website!

Speaking out for Care – The second reading

Guest post by Ben Parker, Parliamentary Assistant at Scope.

Monday marked a significant day as the Care Bill entered the House of Commons to be debated by MPs for the first time. With the Government choosing to have the Second Reading in the last week of Parliamentary business before the Christmas Recess, and falling the day after Nelson Mandela’s funeral, there were understandable concerns that the Bill wouldn’t receive the political attention it deserved.

For disabled people the Bill has huge importance. It marks the first move towards building a preventative and sustainable social care system after years of political neglect and chronic underfunding.

The opening exchanges between Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt and Shadow Secretary Andy Burnham were fiery; a reminder of the political tensions between the two parties before the last election and fuelled by strong feelings on either side of the Chamber around the Care Bill. Speaker John Bercow was forced to interject at length in an attempt to maintain order as Hunt and opposition backbenchers traded verbal blows.

It was disappointing that the Secretary of State’s opening remarks failed to recognise disabled people’s role in the debate. Instead he focused on the NHS, the bolstering of the role of the Care Quality Commission in safeguarding health services and in particular, the administration of enforced service changes at Lewisham Hospital.

But there was also encouragement – Scope’s Britain Cares campaign has focused on addressing the eligibility threshold for social care and ensuring that all disabled people who need access to the care system to live independently can do so. Without this, the Government’s welcome ambitions for the Care Bill risk not being realised. The media also picked up on the story, with Sky News yesterday highlighting eligibility with the powerful real-terms implications for disabled people going without care.

This campaigning has had evident impact. Several backbenchers including David Ward (Lib Dem – Bradford East) and Anne McGuire (Labour – Stirling) chose to focus on this issue, McGuire arguing that if “social care is to mean anything to the lives of the disabled, it should be underpinned by a real recognition of the importance of an independent life.”

John McDonnell (Labour – Hayes and Harlington), Emma Lewell-Buck (Labour – South Shields) and Bill Esterson (Labour – Sefton Central) took the opportunity to highlight the statistics published by the Personal Social Services Unit at the London School of Economics, emphasising that the Government spending on social care has not kept pace with demographic change. McDonnell summarised: “those with moderate needs, which are still significant and should be within the system, are being ignored completely. We need to address this matter with some seriousness now and try to reach some all-party agreement on the way forward.”

The former Communities and Local Government Minister Hazel Blears outlined that failing to address eligibility had implications for the ambition of a preventative care system. “If we are talking about the well-being duty and the duty to prevent, reduce and delay somebody’s need for care, how can we say that we are going to support only people with substantial and critical needs?”

The backbench Conservative MP for Swindon South, Robert Buckland, made a measured and eloquent case in agreement, calling on the Government to ensure that “local authorities’ understanding of prevention is wide ranging and includes the very types of low-level support that can make this prevention aspiration a reality.”

In response, the Minister of State for Care Norman Lamb was at pains to point out that Local Authorities could still choose to set their thresholds at lower levels, although as Burnham countered, legislating for only critical and substantial needs sends a clear political message. This freedom of choice would also seem to run contrary to the Minister’s desire for a simplified ‘in-or-out’ care system designed to eradicate the current post-code lottery of care provision.

The Government’s decision to bring the £3.8bn health and social care integration funding under the banner of the ‘Better Care Fund’ also appears to be an acknowledgement of the increasing political pressure around the importance of lower-level care.

We will continue to watch closely for the amendments at the Committee Stage of the Care Bill. With your help as part of the Britain Cares campaign, we will continue to fight to make the legislative reforms as strong as possible and to ensure that all disabled people who need care can access it and live independent lives.

A tale of two systems: the Government’s health and disability employment strategy

Today the Government has published proposals showing how it intends to improve the way it supports disabled people to find, stay in and progress work.

Work is a huge issue for disabled people. Only one in two disabled people currently have a job. Disabled young people are twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET). And if the same proportion of disabled people were in work as the wider population, there would be 2 million more people in the workforce.

But how well does the new strategy address the challenges disabled people face? Will it create the personalised support disabled people need?

What are the challenges for disabled people?

Many disabled people want to work – but find the labour market a daunting place. Many report that employers see them as too ‘risky’, often making assumptions about what they can and can’t do.

During recruitment, disabled people feel like having an impairment can automatically ‘discount’ them from jobs even when they are qualified to apply.

Disabled people looking for work also rely on having a wide range of other support services in place which can be very difficult and bureaucratic to co-ordinate, typically including housing, social care, welfare advice and other support such as childcare.

So it’s vital that there is joined-up, specialist support available for disabled people. But as Scope’s recent report found, disabled people too often report that the support they receive to find and progress in work is just not up to scratch.

The Work Capability Assessment – which tests whether or not someone is fit for work – still hasn’t been sorted out. 90,000 disabled people have had their benefits suspended for things like missing interviews at Jobcentre Plus. And only 1 in 20 disabled people have been supported to get a job through the Work Programme.

So it’s really welcome that the Government are trying to find ways to improve the system. But the challenge is that today’s proposals risk creating a tale of two systems – of high quality support for the few, and a one size fits all approach for everyone else.

High quality support for the few

The good news is that the Government recognises the need to make improvements, and have put forward a number of new proposals.

Some are really welcome. They propose creating a new ‘gateway’ to support, so that disabled people can get the right support at the right time. This is something Scope has called for before and that has been endorsed by the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

There’s also a focus on who delivers employment support, with more emphasis on specialist and smaller providers like Disabled People’s Organisations. This is good news, as many – such as the Essex Coalition of Disabled People – are doing excellent work and can offer a unique perspective on employment issues.

There’s also a welcome focus on the need for better evidence about the kind of support disabled people feel is useful, and how it can be best be delivered.

One size fits all for everyone else

The problem is that even if these proposals are enough to create a genuinely personalised specialist support offer, the chances are that too few disabled people will benefit.

The details of exactly who’s in or out of the specialist system are yet to be worked out, but the strategy is clear that the majority of disabled people will only receive employment support through the mainstream offer – primarily the Work Programme.

This is worrying. Despite some improvements it’s pretty widely accepted that the Work Programme is still a long way from being effective for most disabled people. We know that only 3.16% of the combined ESA groups found work, and a number of commentaries show that too often disabled people are being left without the right kind of support.

Although the strategy does contain some proposals for mainstream support such as introducing ‘ESA Champions’ in Jobcentres, it’s hard to see these delivering the step-change in personalised support the mainstream offer needs.

The strategy also makes clear that there is only very limited money available, which is ultimately what’s placing the limits on access to specialist support.

The Chancellor announced in the Budget that £350 million is available for disability employment and the Department is clearly still grappling with how to spend this money. But the indicators are that it is likely to be through greater rationing of specialist support and placing as many people as possible into the generic programmes.

So although today’s strategy is welcome, there’s a real danger that we end up having a tale of two systems: effective, holistic support for a small number of disabled people with high support needs; and patchy, heavily-conditional mainstream support for the rest.

As the Government starts to think about how they will deliver the proposals, it’s vital that they work to ensure that as many disabled people as possible receive personalised, specialist support.

Thanking our supporters for all we’ve achieved together in 2013

In the lead up to Christmas, we wanted to thank all our supporters for everything you’ve helped us achieve in 2013.

So last week we released a new video and a series of Vines – 6 second video clips – each one focusing on a different area of our work where we’ve been successful. We collated them all for you to take a look at below.

Roll on 2014!

Thank you film – featuring Alice, Brett, Luke and Jamie:

Employment Vine

Paralympics Vine

Children’s services Vine

Sleep solutions Vine

Independence Vine

Britain Cares Vine

If you like any of the content above, please feel free to post it on social media. You can also subscribe to us on YouTube.

Care, employment and families – big week for disability

It may be the last week before Christmas, but politicians are making time between mince pies and mulled wine to look at a couple of important disability issues.

Today MPs have their first opportunity to debate the Government’s plans for reforming local care – including capping care costs for elderly and an end the postcode lottery in care.

Councils say the crisis in social care sits behind big health issues such as pressure on A&E and GPs – if older and disabled people don’t get preventative, community care, they risk becoming isolated and slipping into crisis.

The Care and Support Alliance – representing 75 charities – is today saying that the bill is a real achievement but risks being undermined by a funding black hole which has forced councils to restrict who gets support.

The CSA has published new research from the LSE that reveals that if we had the 2008 care system today another half a million disabled and older people would get preventative, community support.

Sitting behind this is massive, historic under-funding. Government spending on social care would have had to rise by an additional £1.6 billion just to keep pace with demographic pressures. Instead councils have had to reduce their budgets by £2.6bn in the last three years alone, according to social services directors.

The story is on Sky News and in the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Times.

Meanwhile Scope has been asking disabled people to talk about why social care is important to them and encouraging the public to show that it thinks the Government needs to act on care.

Then on Tuesday the Government is going to be talking about getting more disabled people into work.  This is a huge issue. And it’s great that the Government is committed to tackling it. BBC’s In Business programme last week, which previewed some of the announcement, is worth a listen.

We’ll also be looking out for news on Children and Families Bill tomorrow.

Families have told us that they really struggle to the support they need in their local area. This bill will mean that councils will have to publish a ‘Local Offer’ of services available in the local area. Local agencies like education and the health services will have to work together better to plan and commission services for disabled children.

These are positive moves but we have been pushing for stronger guarantees that families with disabled children and young people will be able to hold local agencies to account for the delivery and quality of services set out in the Local Offer. Without this, families will be left with the same battles they encounter now in trying to get support. We’ll be keeping a close on the crucial final stages of the bill.

Around the country people #SpeakOut4Care – will MPs today?

Guest post from Graeme Hay, National Campaigns Officer at Scope. 

Social care takes so many different forms and can help people with loads of different tasks and activities in their everyday lives. Whether it’s helping people get up and ready in the morning, preparing and eating food, or getting out and about – this crucial support helps many disabled people live independent lives.

The Care Bill, Government legislation which will decide the future of social care, is being debated by MPs for the first time today. But at the moment it risks shutting more than 100,000 disabled people out of social care completely.

So we wanted MPs to hear from their constituents about why social care is so important to them, asking them to send in a message that we promised to deliver to their MP. We got a huge response from people all over the country – people who use social care, relatives and people who just believe everyone should be able to live their lives the way they want to.

Graeme Hay holding up Speak out for care bubble

Powerful stories

All the messages were printed out on to big speech bubbles and delivered to almost 400 MPs in Parliament last week. There were some incredibly powerful stories, here are just a few examples to share with you: 

“I want everyone who needs care to get it because… everyone deserves an equal chance to live to their full potential with the support they require in order to achieve this.”

“I want everyone who needs care to get it because… I am a 67 year old man who has been disabled from birth. I need help with everything, getting dressed, taking medication, and as I am also registered as severely sight impaired. I would be jailed in my own house and unable to get out or talk and meet new friends without help.”

“I want everyone who needs care to get it because… my wheelchair using friend has so much to offer the world but is housebound because of lack of care – lack of care makes people more dependent, not less.”

“I want everyone who needs care to get it because that is the way it should be.”

As well as all the usual briefings filling up MPs post bags, we hope they’ll pay special attention to these unique stories from their constituents, speaking out for care, and use the Care Bill debate to make sure that everyone who needs social care gets it.

Growing number of voices

And the voices speaking out for care are growing even bigger.

Alana and her brother James from Oxfordshire, who relies on social care to live independently, started a change.org petition calling on party leaders to commit to making sure everyone who needs care can get it.

At the time of writing nearly 40,000 people have already signed the petition showing just how big an issue social care is for so many people around Britain.

Will MPs respond and speak out at the debate today, to make sure everyone who needs care gets it?  Follow the debate on Twitter and check back here tomorrow for our rundown and what happened in Parliament.

Nelson Mandela on “the long walk to equality”

In 2004 Scope ran a campaign called “Time to get equal” to raise awareness of the problems and barriers faced by disabled people in their everyday lives. In support of Scope and our campaign, Nelson Mandela sent us this special message:

Nelson Mandela

This is a very special month and period in South Africa. And because the international community contributed so much to bring about the special situation we are celebrating in our country we believe that this is also a special period for the world.

We in South Africa are celebrating a decade of non-racial, non-sexist, non-discriminatory democracy. We went to the polls in our third democratic election just this past week. All of this stood in celebration of our democracy, based on the values of human dignity, the achievement of human equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.

Under the equality clause in our constitution’s bill of rights we affirm that, and I quote:

“The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”

The constitution continues to affirm that no person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more of the grounds mentioned above.

We have striven to give legislative and regulatory content to these founding precepts in our nation-building constitution. We have in this past decade progressed, slow as it may have been, towards living together in the acknowledgement of the basic equality and right to dignity of all human beings.

We have tried to give special emphasis to the rights of people living with disability. It is so easy to think of equality demands with reference primarily to race, colour, religion and gender; and to forget, or to relegate to secondary importance, the vast discrimination against disabled persons.

We cannot claim to have reached anywhere near to where a society should be in terms of practical equality of the disabled. We continue to try. We realise that legislation and regulations are not sufficient or the end of the long walk to equality and non-discrimination. Education, raising of awareness, conscientisation, eradication of stigmatisation: these are key elements in achieving non-discrimination against the disabled in practice and in their everyday lives.

A democracy is an order of social equality and non-discrimination. Our compatriots who are disabled challenge us in a very special way to manifest in real life those values of democracy.

It is not a question of patronising philanthropy towards disabled people. They do not need the patronage of the non-disabled. It is not for them to adapt to the dominant and dominating world of the so-called non-disabled. It is for us to adapt our understanding of a common humanity; to learn of the richness of how human life is diverse; to recognise the presence of disability in our human midst as an enrichment of our diversity.

Organisations like Scope help us to that greater understanding and I ask you to support Scope in its fight to end discrimination and to sign the equality pledge.

I thank you.