Political correspondent speaks at All-Party Parliamentary Group on Learning Disability

Our next speaker is David Allkins Now David is a political correspondent from United Response and he’s here to talk about the Every Vote Counts campaign David United Response produces easy read news The purpose of easy read news is to give people an understanding of what is happening in the world Imagine walking into a room where four different radio stations are playing four different talk stations and everybody else expects you to know what is happening That is what the news can be like for some people Easy read news was officially launched in the House of Commons in 2013 The purpose of Easy News is to help people understand recent events in the news and the world To do this, we read about a major news story that has taken place in the last two months We study material from different sources and we pare down the story to its essential points We try to present the facts without any preconceptions or any bias then we lay out these facts in sentences that everybody can understand When formatting Easy News, we work in a format with two sentences on the right and an illustration on the left The illustration relates to an aspect of the story It is either a press photo or from the image bank Photosymbols United Response publishes Easy News bi-monthly It also available to download on the website The creation of the stories is produced by a group of people with learning difficulties across the country to give different parties a chance to contribute So why do we do this? Before United Response started this, they found that people with learning difficulties were not interested in politics or had difficulty following the news Easy read news was created to put the news in a format that anybody could understand People with learning disabilities have an interest in politics They have to depend on the state for some moments in their lives so they deserve a say because they have to know who they can vote for, why they should vote for them and how they can Democracy is important but there is a danger that it can be seen as something remote and removed from people’s lives If people are unable to relate to it or see themselves as alienated from it, it is weak Because of this, United Response is running a campaign called Every Vote Counts which aims to inform people with learning disabilities about politics and the coming election Mencap is running the Hear My Voice campaign linking voting to the concerns that people have over their everyday lives I am here today as part of the movement to make politics more accessible to people with learning difficulties I have been recruited as the political correspondent for United Response and I am proud to do so United Response has employed me to make a series of online videos that will help to make politics more accessible to people with learning disabilities or anybody else If anybody would like to answer a couple of questions for this video report, please could you let me know as you leave? Clarity and ease of understanding is something that I think all political parties and candidates need to consider The organisation Mencap says that there are over 1.4 million people with learning difficulties in this country with friends and families The polling results suggest that people are splitting their votes between a wider range of parties and the possibility of a minority government for coalition looks likely This means that more needs to be done to encourage people with learning difficulties to engage with voting Everybody should have access to easy read material that tells them how they can register and vote All political parties should be producing easy read material that explains their manifestos and what they can do to help the disabled community I believe if democracy is not made available to everybody it is defeating its purpose Well done. Thank you very much indeed David.

Maurice Vega

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