Blog by Ann Jones MS
Once again this year we celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities to the theme of ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’. 2020 has been a challenging year for us all, and whilst we endeavour to adapt the way in which we live and work, we must ensure that, whatever the future holds, it is a future inclusive for all.
Those whose disabilities may not be immediately apparent face additional barriers and we must, as a society, seek to improve awareness and understanding of such disabilities and their impact. Some of you may have noticed the use of Sunflower lanyards in shops and public transport during the pandemic. This is a means of indicating that you have a hidden disability and have a good reason not to wear a face covering or require a level of support or understanding . This kind of initiative, will, I hope, have a positive effect and one I hope we can promote for the future
During my time as an elected politician I have always sought to champion equality, strongly believing that our representatives should reflect our diverse society. As a parliamentarian with a disability, I have always been ready to speak out on issues that affect those who have different needs and I will continue to work towards a society that is truly equal for all.
I have often found that pointing out the need for simple (but too frequently overlooked) adjustments can make such a difference; things such as ensuring that there are handrails on both sides of a ramp and/or stairs that can give a person with a disability independence and confidence. I am also keen to emphasise the need for us all to consider using our increasingly technological parliaments for the benefit of all. The Senedd is indeed an examplar, but there is always more to be done and we must not be complacent.
In 2017, I had the honour of attending the inaugural conference for ‘Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities’ (CPwD). Our aim is to support Parliamentarians with disabilities to be more effective in their roles and to help improve awareness of disability issues amongst all Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff. Further to this we hope to help break down the barriers that discourage people with disabilities from participating in politics.
In September I was thrilled to have been elected as one of nine Regional Champions to help lead the work of the CPwD. During my term, I will endeavour to be a leading voice for persons with disabilities both within the CPA and in Parliaments across the world . The first meeting was held virtually on 26 November.
To mark IDPD this year, the Senedd will be hosting a virtual panel discussion which I’ll be chairing on 3 December. Please do come along and get involved. More information on the event can be found here.
Thank you for reading and happy IDPD to all!