I had the privilege of meeting with Dennis Robertson, a Member of the Scottish Parliament who made waves by being the first blind person elected to that office.
In common with myself and other elected representatives around the world with a significant sensory impairment, he needs appropriate support to be able to carry out his job effectively, and we shared our experiences of how to work around our respective impairment in order to do our work.
What I was particularly impressed by though, was the practical and straight forwards funding arrangements that the Scottish parliament has made to provide for access for people with sensory impairments who work there, with a separate budget provision that funds not just access needs of MP’s like Dennis, but all people who work at or use the parliament premises.
This was in place years before Dennis was elected, so the whole fiasco around the funding of the electronic note-takers that accompanied my election to parliament just didn’t arise for Dennis. Any access needs Dennis has are provided for and funded separately to the base funding that every MP gets to do their job.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our parliament stepped up and made the same provision for access to everyone.