Politics

People with learning disabilities need to make their voices heard on election day

Mencap’s public affairs and parliamentary team are working to ensure that voting is accessible to people with a leaning disability

Ismail Kaji of Mencap

Ismail Kaji, who works in Mencap’s public affairs and parliamentary team. Image: Andy Parsons

When it comes to registering to vote in an election, it can be hard for people with a learning disability, like me, to fill in the forms. It’s jargony and difficult to understand. It can also be difficult to ask for support at polling stations. Staff sometimes don’t understand how to support people.  

A lot of my work is about making sure that people with a learning disability cast their vote in elections by making sure things are accessible. It needs to be easy to read, clear and engaging. We’re working alongside the Electoral Commission to remove the barriers to voting. It’s also about encouragement as well.  

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People do not choose to have a disability. People might be born with it or things might happen in our lives. Too many employers don’t seem to have either the understanding of how to support people with disabilities or have the time, and that’s why it’s hard to find and stay in work. Mencap would like to see more reasonable adjustments made by employers so that people with a learning disability can be supported in the workplace.  

The government needs to set an example and employ people with disabilities in their own departments. If I was the government and I wanted disabled people to work, but I wasn’t employing them, how does that look? It’s pretty bad, isn’t it? 

I’m the parliamentary and government engagement officer at Mencap. I have a support coach, Matt, who guides me in my role.  

I would love people with disabilities to get into work as long as their health is good and they are able to work. I’ve been working at Mencap for around 26 years. And I’m still banging the doors of the government to get them to make life better for people with learning disabilities, so they can have their dream job and be independent. 

It’s not just about the job or the salary. It’s about confidence and learning new skills. 

I would like to spread the voice of people with disabilities further. Politicians need to start really listening. We have our own voice. We are living in the UK and like everyone else in our society, we should be casting our vote in the election. 

EASY READ GUIDE TO VOTING

Step 1

Register to vote online by 18 June on the government’s website

Step 2

Decide how to vote – in person, by post or proxy? Proxy means that someone else can vote for you

Step 3

Voting in person? Don’t forget to bring your ID. That could be a passport or driving licence or another valid form of ID

Step 4

Vote! Head to your polling station to choose a candidate in the election.

Ismail Kaji works in Mencap’s public affairs and parliamentary team.

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