Our dear friend Colin is part of a group of adults with learning disabilities who attend one of the LDAS Accessible Politics groups on a regular basis.
As a great fan of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Colin was right at the front of the queue recently when a trip to the Scottish Parliament to watch First Minister’s Questions was planned.
Thanks to local MSP Willie Coffey, the group was able to tour the chamber of the Parliament after FMQs so naturally Colin made straight for the First Minister’s seat to try it out. He even did a bit of a pretend speech about what he would do if he were First Minister for a day.
We sent out the picture of Colin in a tweet, partly to share such a great picture of Colin but also to demonstrate that Down’s Syndrome and other learning disabilities are no barrier to having an interest in politics.
Indeed, Colin is keen to know what his councillors and MSPs are deciding, especially in relation to himself and his community. He loves to cast his vote. He has an interest in a particular political party. He holds views on political matters and decisions, laws and policies, not all but some. When politicians come to meet with his LDAS accessible politics group he peppers them with questions and has a lot to say.
Yes, he needs information broken down into easy read and other accessible formats. Yes, he needs support and extra time to go over things, perhaps repeatedly. Yes, he wants to campaign and speak out about his issues but only in a way that suits him. All of this is ok and is exactly what the LDAS groups do, in a safe and politically neutral space.
Now, LDAS has not used twitter religiously in the past and our social media community is defined by our membership, the learning disability community in the UK and the political environment so we don’t expect our tweets to reverberate around the world.
That is until now…specifically until Colin…
Because the tweet of Colin, put out to mark Down’s Syndrome Week, has done just that. People who have seen it have messaged LDAS from all over and as far away as Australia to say they fully support challenging the notion that learning disabilities automatically means a person cannot have an interest or be involved in politics and how inspired they are by Colin’s tweet.
How amazing that such a small gesture of posing for a fun photo can be such a big inspiration.
Colin’s response on hearing this news, “thumbs up!”