For too long, the voices of disabled people in Scotland have not been heard. With one in five of Scotland’s population – approximately one million people – defined as disabled, this voice should be loud and clear.
My intention is to bring forward a Member’s Bill to establish a Disability Commissioner in Scotland. The proposed Bill will follow a similar model to that of the Children and Young People Commissioner that was established in Scotland in 20047 . The proposed Commissioner is deliberately based on a commissioner model with wide-ranging functions, with the specific intention that the Disability Commissioner would be viewed as the first and main port of call for people with a disability who are facing issues that might cut across a number of policy areas and may also require a number of associated actions (from high level policy challenge to specific investigations of their case). The Disability Commissioner will encompass all disabilities; physical, mental, hidden and fluctuating conditions as per the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010 Section 6 to ensure no-one is left behind or excluded from seeking assistance and support.
Before my proposal is put forward for parliamentary scrutiny, I am keen to ensure that as many voices as possible are heard during this key consultation period. Hearing from people with lived experience of disabilities, both physical and mental/hidden, those who champion rights and others key stakeholders who have an interest in promoting the rights of disabled people need to be included in this legislative process to ensure this proposed Bill is as effective as possible in its aims and objectives. I welcome your thoughts and views on this draft proposal for a Member’s Bill and hope we can work together to develop legislation that will allow the establishment of a Disability Commissioner for Scotland.
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