PEOPLE with learning disabilities will this week challenge politicians and change makers to step up and make meaningful changes to ensure an end to discrimination.

A group of Rapporteurs with lived experienced, and employed by the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities (SCLD), will on Thursday give evidence at the Scottish Parliament to a group of decision makers headed by minister Maree Todd.

One of the group is Dylan Stevens, a talented young DJ who has autism and ADHD, and who joined the Rapporteurs when the project was first started in January last year.

He said: "We are looking for real commitment from people in writing, after listening to us, of what changes they can make. 

The Herald:

"We are looking for the specifics, and also for people to say not what they can do, but how they can work with us to do it.

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"People have been talking about this for an awful long time but they haven't actually been doing anything and it's really just about time that they did do something because we aren't going to stand for empty promises any more."

The SCLAD Rapporteurs have been gathering evidence over the past 16 months, speaking to other people with learning disabilities about how their lives are affected by discrimination and what barriers exist for them.

In response they have developed eight pillars - areas where they want to see change happen and where change will make the biggest difference in people’s lives.

Dylan, from Edinburgh, is the spokesperson for media and culture, but the other pillars include employment, health, identity, transport, education, access to justice, and lifelong support.

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The group will set out their needs in these areas to representatives from the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, the Office of the Public Guardian and Accountant of Court, Sport Scotland, COSLA, NHS Education, Creative Scotland, Police Scotland, ScotRail and various other groups.

Dylan, 24, believes the creative industries are missing out on talent and expertise by constantly overlooking the potential of people with learning disabilities.

He added: "They need to be giving people with learning difficulties a chance in the industry and really allowing them a platform to express themselves. 

"As it happens, a lot of them will very well likely have something to bring to the table. 

"And certainly is it also important to portray them fairly in the media, which doesn't always happen.

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"DJing has a positive impact on my mental health so being excluded from participating in media and culture could also be quite detrimental to a person with a learning disability's mental health too."

The meeting at parliament comes during Scottish Learning Disability Week, which begins today, and this year focuses on acknowledging the ways in which people with learning disabilities demonstrate leadership in society. 

The SCLD established the awareness week five years ago and since then people with learning disabilities and their supporters run activities and events every year around the chosen theme.

Charlie McMillan, Chief Executive of SCLD, said: "People with learning disabilities in Scotland need to be in control of their own lives and supported to lead change for themselves, others and their communities.  

"This week is all about challenging negative perceptions by highlighting how people with learning disabilities in Scotland are empowering themselves, and those around them, to make a positive contribution to society."