A NEW campaign is calling on political parties to commit to the world’s first commissioner for autistic people and people with a learning disability in Scotland.

ENABLE Scotland, National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism have today launched the ‘Our Voice Our Rights’ Campaign, in a bid to make Scotland the best country in the world for the 56,000 autistic people and the 120,000 people with a learning disability in Scotland.

In the lead up to the Scottish Parliamentary Elections in May 2021, the three charities say families are exhausted from having to fight for support.

Campaigners believe that a commissioner in Scotland - the first in the world - would "ensure real change" and champion the rights of autistic people and people with a learning disability. 

READ MORE: Love blossoms during lockdown thanks to dating and friendship agency for Scots with learning disabilities

The Herald:

They also said a commissioner would help tackle the problem of discrimination and could be a "powerful voice" advocating for autistic people and people with learning disabilities.

Peter McMahon, who has a learning disability and is a member of ENABLE Scotland, said:  

“We need a Commissioner for Learning Disability and Autism so that people who have a learning disability like me aren’t put on the back burner or forgotten about.

"With a Commissioner working with us we can improve access to services and speak up for people when they cannot. Most importantly we can help people live good lives with choice and control and free from discrimination.

"People with learning disabilities feel invisible, we don’t want to be the invisible people any more and feel a Commissioner would help us. “ 

Jan Savage, Director of ENABLE Scotland Charity and Membership said the creation of a commissioner would do two things.

READ MORE: Autism: Too many in Scotland struggling to get help, warns major review

The Herald:

She said: "It would be a symbolic appointment- a strong signal to this population that you matter, you are important to us all, and that we want to do better by you and with you. 

"Secondly, it would work alongside existing public bodies, their regulators and people who have learning disabilities themselves, to provide insight and accountability where things are not working well – and most importantly, lead the change.   

"The simple truth is that for too long and too often we are not getting it right for people who have a learning disability. We need a new catalyst for change.” 

Charlene Tait, Deputy CEO at Scottish Autism added:  “Despite Scotland already having existing well-intentioned policies and legislation in place, the human rights of autistic people and people with a learning disability are still being failed in numerous areas across education, health, social care, and community services.

"Covid-19 has further shone a light on this critical situation – Scotland can, and must, do better. 

“A Commissioner working across public bodies and existing regulators, to uphold and protect the rights of autistic people and people with a learning disability, would be a powerful champion for change.

"This new role, would ensure better access to additional support in the key areas where many individuals are being currently excluded and would mark a significant step forward towards a more inclusive Scotland.”