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Podcast series with Liz Sayce: community participation and universal design

As part of a new series, Disability Horizons Co-founder Martyn Sibley will be interviewing famous and influential disabled people from the top 100 Power list to bring you a collection of entertaining and informative podcasts. This week, he talks to Liz Sayce, CEO of Disability Rights UK…

When I was due to go on work experience at school, I missed out because of my spinal fusion surgery. Not to be deterred, a year later I found my own placement in the school holidays. It took a bit of research and rejection, but I found something in the end.

I helped run the kids club at a leisure centre and worked on reception at the local gym. With my skeletal frame (the operation had hit me hard for a few years) and my train track braces, I was every bit the awkward teenager.

Each day I went into work feeling nervous. What if I couldn’t reach the phone, or needed the toilet (this was before I had full-time are support)? What if I said something stupid? What if the kids asked questions about my disability? Oh the anxiety rained down hard.

However, every time I went home, I felt so happy. Full of pride. Nothing bad had happened. The staff and customers were great to be around. Most of all, I was participating in my local community and it felt amazing.

Liz Sayce

Recently, I was lucky enough to interview Liz Sayce, who is currently transitioning as CEO of Disability Rights UK to new adventures. It was a great time to look both backwards, and forwards, at the disability right’s movement.

In this podcast, Liz talks about the early battles; the hard campaigns fought just for disabled people to be heard, let alone to win political and legal gains. It wasn’t easy, quick or simple. But the original activists did it. Disabled people eventually got their legislative protection – the Equalities Act 2012 as it is now.

As CEO of Disability Rights UK, Liz oversaw a difficult merger of three different but complimentary charities. Alongside launching great projects like the Leadership Academy Programme (LAP), the charity has grown and grown.

In this great interview, we agree on two very fundamental points: all people, whether disabled or not actually, should have both community participation (as in my work experience example), and universal design.

Briefly touching upon universal design too. Have you noticed that when there is a ramp or steps most people take the ramps? It’s the same with digital design, public spaces, service delivery and beyond. Solutions that consider disabled people often benefit everybody else.

Inclusion is possible, we just have to open our minds.

I really hope you enjoy listening to our discussion. Liz really inspired me to encourage inclusive design and to keep fighting the recent political regression.

With the General Election coming up, make sure you register to vote. It’s important disabled people and their allies use their vote. Look for the parties wanting to invest in disabled people, definitely not the parties looking to cut our means to live independently with choice and control.

To hear all of Martyn’s podcasts, visit his blog:

By Martyn Sibley

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