Inclusive communication plans move forward

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The campaign for inclusive communication is moving forward after being backed in the Scottish Parliament 

25th May 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Inclusive communication should be at the heart of all legislation in Scotland, a campaign has stressed.

The campaign for inclusive communication continues to gather momentum as disability organisations have welcomed steps taken by the Scottish Parliament to accommodate the needs of thousands of Scots who can find themselves at a communication disadvantage because of disability or other reasons.

Amendments made to the Consumer Scotland and Social Security Scotland Bills by Ruth Maguire MSP have made strides towards a collective aim of making Scotland an inclusive communication nation.

These provisions in law, the first of their kind in the UK, compel organisations to use inclusive communication approaches in all their communications with the public including easy to understand language in letters and on their websites and telephone and face communication that is recognises and responds to all the ways people communicate. For some people inclusive communication may also require the use of braille or British Sign Language.

This has been followed by another amendment on inclusive communication which was successfully lodged during the debate on the second Coronavirus Scotland Bill.

The next step of the campaign led by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), Inclusion Scotland and Camphill Scotland aims to see the introduction of an Inclusive  Communication Bill, which has been drafted by the three organisations.

Maguire said: “The need for inclusive communications has never been more important. People need accessible information and accessible ways of communicating, whatever way they find easiest to communicate.

“Inclusive communication benefits everybody, because no one has ever complained that a public service was too easy to understand or made it too easy for them to get their point across.

“Overarching legislation to meet everyone’s communication needs is required to ensure best practice across the board. Introducing a specific bill on this, as suggested by the Royal College of speech and Language Therapists, Inclusion Scotland and Camphill Scotland, will ensure Scotland becomes the first country to remove universal barriers to equality and human rights that exclusive communication creates.”

Kim Hartley Kean, head of the RCSLT in Scotland, said: “Making Scotland an Inclusive Communication Nation would put this country on the map for equality and human rights.

“This would be a fantastic achievement for everyone who has been involved in bringing Scotland to this point – but more importantly it would transform the lives of people who miss out on so many opportunities and public services simply because they are unable or find it really hard to receive or understand information or to be understood by service providers.”

Dr Neil Henery, director of Camphill Scotland, said: “Camphill Scotland and our partners warmly welcome the support of Ruth Maguire MSP, and of MSPs from other parties, to promote the use of inclusive communication. This has resulted in significant changes to the social security legislation, to the consumer legislation and to the Covid legislation, which will help to improve outcomes for the large number of people in Scotland with communication difficulties. We look forward to working with Ruth Maguire, with the Scottish Government and with the Scottish Parliament to introduce legislation that will require all public bodies in Scotland to use inclusive communication.”

The Coronavirus Scotland Bill included an amendment from Mark Griffin MSP, backed by deafscotland, which urged the government to esnrue it communicates appropriately with all people, particularly those who have a disability or communication needs. 

Deafscotland chief officer Janis McDonald said: "We are delighted that the Scottish Government supported the amendment we on worked with Mark Griffin MSP and appreciate the importance of ministers deciding to provide legal clarity about what they expect to happen. In theory the duty was always there but now we have consensus that the law needs to be specific on practice.”