Campaign launched urging parties to produce ‘Easy Read’ Manifestos at same time as main version
70% of people with a learning disability said that they want to vote in the future, but 64% have felt unable to in previous elections
Learning disability charity Mencap has urged the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Green Party to ensure 1 million people with a learning disability of voting age in the UK are able to vote in the General Election by producing their Manifestos in an accessible format.
Without Manifestos being published in ‘Easy Read’ format, people with a learning disability say they struggle to understand the often complex political rhetoric, and are unable to make an informed democratic decision.
Ismail Kaji, who has a learning disability and works at Mencap, has launched a campaign calling on the major parties to produce their Manifesto in easy read format, alongside their main Manifestos, to ensure people with a learning disability are given the same time as any other voter to understand the election and make an informed decision.
In 2015, Easy Read guides and Manifestos to the General Election were the most downloaded materials from Mencap’s website.
On Monday (8 May) Mencap will launch an Easy Read guide, in partnership with Electoral Commission, to provide accessible information on the election, how to register to vote and voting on Election day for people with a learning disability. Mencap has also produced a guide for supporters of people with a learning disability to help them vote.
Ismail Kaji has a learning disability and works as a Parliamentary Support Officer at learning disability charity Mencap, said:
“It is very, very important to have Easy Read materials available during elections so that people with a learning disability can understand the promises the parties are making, what the parties are doing and decide who to vote for.
“Without Easy Read, people with a learning disability will find it really difficult to vote, and could be excluded from the election completely. That is not acceptable. We deserve to be included and have the same opportunity to have our voices heard.
“It is scary to think that if the parties won’t produce an Easy Read Manifesto, what that means if they are elected in to power. What happens to people with a learning disability in the future?”
Rob Holland, Parliamentary Manager at learning disability charity Mencap, said:
“People with a learning disability are often the last group to be listened to, but the first to feel the effects of Government policy. The speed of this election means there is a real danger it will be completely inaccessible to people with a learning disability. With little time to organise local hustings events, there is a real risk their views will not be considered. This makes it all the more important that the parties produce easy read versions of their Manifestos.
“Easy Read guides and Manifestos make confusing and difficult political language accessible. In previous elections the Easy Read guides have been our most downloaded documents, showing the real desire from people with a learning disability and their families to understand what the parties are promising and make an informed decision as to who to vote for.
“Failing to produce easy read manifestos mean the parties risk losing votes of a million people and excluding people with a learning disability from the process completely.”
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org