Robert and Rachel take the UN!
We always had a feeling Team CID – Robert Strike and Rachel Spencer – would make an impression on the United Nations.
It was a wonderful opportunity to attend the UN Conference of State Parties to the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And most of all, to speak up about inclusion, participation and accessible information – in particular the importance of easy read. Robert and Rachel even translated all the heavy UN conference documents they received, as no easy read materials had been provided, and Robert had the right to understand and access the information.
Shining the spotlight on Easy Read
When word of our easy read materials got around, we were thrilled to be given the opportunity to hand them out to conference participants to ensure everyone could understand and be included, and to show how important easy read is! We were even more thrilled when Robert was given the opportunity by the Australian delegation to speak at one of the conference events. He would have a chance to talk to the world about the importance of inclusion, access and easy read!
Robert on the world stage
Robert did us proud! He talked about the importance of co-design and including people with intellectual disability during the entire process, from creating the content to the user testing. Robert used examples of how critical easy read is. He talked about how essential it is that health information can be read and understood by everyone to keep people safe, and how it’s useful for health professionals to explain things in plain English. He also spoke of the need for organisations to have information on rights and making complaints in easy read, this along with self-advocacy skills will help people speak up if they are being mistreated or abused.
As Robert spoke it was standing room only, with more than 100 people in the room. Afterwards, compliments came flying in that is was the best presentation at the conference so far.
Making International friends
Robert and Rachel met delegates from far and wide. German delegate, Gabriele Lösekrug-Möller, German Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, was impressed by our papers and other examples of our easy read work. She told Robert about their laws around accessible information and easy read in Germany and it gave us hope that more countries could also follow Germany’s lead. Rachel cheekily joked that Germany is better than us at both this and soccer! We may not be able to match them on the soccer field, but we hope that one day soon Australia can stand on the world stage as leaders in having accessible information for all! Challenge accepted!
Robert and Rachel would like to thank the Department of Social Services for funding the trip, Department of Foreign Affairs for assisting our international relations and Disabled People’s Organisation Australia for ensuring we got heard on the International stage. Also, as always, Alastair McEwin, Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, who is always so supportive of our work.