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The Keys to Life - Learning Disabilities Strategy
In June 2013, the Scottish Government published its learning disabilities strategy The Keys to Life - Improving Quality of Life for People with Learning Disabilities, building on the success of 'The Same as You?', the original 10-year programme designed to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities. Following a two-year evaluation of the original strategy, a national learning disabilities strategy group discussed key themes and agreed the broad responses which formed the new learning disabilities strategy. The strategy contains 52 recommendations in total, aimed at improving the quality of life for people with learning disabilities in Scotland.
In June 2015, the Scottish Government published an Implementation Framework which outlines the vision and main priorities for the strategy over 2015-17. The framework outlines progress so far and next steps in relation to four strategic outcomes: Choice and Control, A Healthy Life, Independence and Active Citizenship.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Delivery Plan to 2021
The Scottish Government has published A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People strategy, outlining the Government’s Delivery Plan to 2021 for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It reflects a recent consultation on the Draft Delivery Plan and engagement with disabled people about how to reduce barriers, tackle inequalities and secure equal enjoyment of their rights as set out under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Strategy includes five key ambitions and 93 separate actions to protect the rights of people with disabilities. The ambitions include:
- Support services that promote independent living, meet needs and work together to enable a life of choices, opportunities and participation
- Decent incomes and fairer working lives
- Places that are accessible to everyone
- Protected rights
- Active participation
The strategy also outlines work already underway under each of the above themes.
Sensory Impairment Strategy
In April 2014, the Scottish Government published See Hear: A strategic framework for meeting the needs of people with a sensory impairment in Scotland. Developed in partnership with COSLA, the framework provides practical advice and direction for meeting the needs of both children and adults with a sensory impairment. The document provides nine recommendations to help achieve the following five aims:
- The seamless provision of assessment, care and support to children and adults with a sensory impairment.
- Children and adults with a sensory impairment should expect the same access to education, employment, healthcare, social care and leisure as everyone else.
- People who have or develop a sensory loss understand what this loss will mean for them.
- People who have or develop a sensory loss are able to access information and be supported to take the maximum possible control over living as independently as possible, while also getting direct assistance when needed: appropriate communication is critical to this.
- Children and young people with a sensory impairment should expect appropriate and timely intervention in the early years and for as long as is required.
British Sign Language (Scotland) Act
The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill was introduced into the Scottish Parliament by Labour MSP Mark Griffin and was passed unanimously by MSPs on 17 September 2015. The Bill is designed to promote the use and provision of British Sign Language (BSL) within public services, including provision for the preparation and publication of a BSL National Plan for Scotland and a requirement for certain public authorities to prepare and publish a British Sign Language Plan.
Changes to the Bill agreed during parliamentary consideration include:
- Bodies must consider how to promote both visual and tactile forms of BSL.
- The scope of the National Action Plan has been extended to include public bodies with a national remit. These bodies will no longer have to publish individual plans.
- The timescale for publishing the first national plan has been extended from one year to two years; the cycle for publishing BSL plans has been extended from roughly every four years to six; and progress is to be reported on every six years.
The Scottish Government recently consulted on the first draft British Sign Language (BSL) plan. The Plan covers the Scottish Government and more than 50 national public bodies who are answerable to Scottish Ministers, including the Care Inspectorate. It is framed around ten long term goals (these relate to public services as a whole; early years; school education; post-school education; employment; Health mental health and social care; transport; culture, leisure, sport and the arts; justice; and democracy). The draft plan – which covers the period 2017-2023 – sets out more than fifty actions to be taken over the next six years. The consultation closed in June 2017 and the responses are available online.
Extending the Rights of Children with Capacity Under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004
The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 sets out the duties of education authorities to make provision for children with additional support needs. Most rights in the Act currently can be exercised by parents and by young people (16 and 17 year olds) whom the Education Authority consider do not lack capacity.
The proposed Education (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 23 March 2015. The Scottish Government Bill extends most of those rights to children aged between 12 and 16, where the Education Authority, and in some cases the Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland (ASNTS), consider that they have capacity.
The Bill follows a Scottish Government report analysing responses to a consultation on extending the rights of children with additional support needs and repealing Section 70 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.
The general principles of the Bill were approved at Stage 1 by MSPs in October 2015. The Bill passed Stage 2 following three days of debate and consideration in November 2015. In January 2016, the legislation was passed and the Education (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent in March 2016.
Disabled people's access to education
The Scottish Government has published a report analysing responses to a consultation on draft guidance on preparing accessibility strategies for disabled people’s access to education. The Disability Strategies and Pupils' Educational Records (Scotland) Act 2002 requires education authorities, and those responsible for the management of independent and grant-aided schools, to prepare and implement an accessibility strategy for all the schools for whom they are responsible.
The analysis report concludes that the proposed guidance has been welcomed and "accepted in broad terms", with some areas for improvement identified.
Disabled people’s organisations identify independent living as the overarching priority for disability equality and the Shared Vision for Independent Living is the Scottish Government’s headline policy for disabled equality and disabled people.
The Scottish Government also set up the Independent Living in Scotland project to support disabled people to have their voices heard by policy makers, decision makers and others in wider society. It aims to grow and strengthen the independent living movement in Scotland.
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