Headlines: April 19th, 2005

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee will be in Stirling today on the latest leg of a tour of the country to discuss issues surrounding the barriers to participation faced by disabled people. They are hoping to draw up firm proposals in a report to be published next year.Today’s meeting is one of a series of eight designed to bring together groups of disabled people, service providers, employers and key stakeholders across Scotland. Further similar events will take place in Thurso, Stornoway, Dundee and Edinburgh. There have already been events in Melrose, Ayr and Glasgow.

The committee is exploring the barriers facing disabled people in accessing work, further and higher education as well as leisure and cultural activities. It is looking at how these barriers can be removed and seeking examples of good practice where those obstacles have been done away with.

Convener of the Committee, Cathy Peattie MSP said the object was to hear directly from people across Scotland because in spite of legislation in place to improve accessibility of services and buildings, many disabled people were still facing considerable problems in their everyday lives.

“Our Committee wants to hear about those barriers, how they can potentially be removed and examples of good practice around the country where barriers have been removed,” she said.

As well as the series of meetings the committee has set up an online response form to offer more people the opportunity to express their opinions. There will also be future evidence taking sessions at the Scottish Parliament, which will be informed by the outcomes of discussions at the eight meetings.

The committee is working towards developing concrete recommendations for changes that will result in improvements in the lives of disabled people in Scotland and aims to publish its final inquiry report in spring next year.