The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) were commissioned by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) on behalf of the Department for Education, to produce a high quality publication, titled – Tomorrow’s Leaders – A world beyond disability.
It was published in June 2020 and celebrates the ambitious, inspiring talents and achievements of young disabled people.
Many of the young people who shared their stories in the Tomorrow’s Leaders magazine had a lot more they wanted to say about their experiences; the challenges they overcame and who had helped them on their way, so we invited them to develop a series of blogs for the Transition Information Network (TIN).
To get us started Jack Welch has shared his experiences of being part of the Tomorrow’s Leaders project steering group and his reflections on life as a disabled young person:
“In a short space of a previous generation, that is the youth of my parents to be more exact, the laws and attitudes in relation to disabled people have changed considerably. Be that he Disability Discrimination Act (now absorbed into the Equality Act) or mainstream popular dramas, like The A-Word (which has its faults), UK society would almost be unrecognisable to disabled people of my generation 20-30 years ago. As these case studies of disabled people advocating for change now though, it would be wrong to assume we have reached any kind of destination, but rather building on the successes of those who have come before us.
Reflecting upon my own past and current experiences, we are still far from lasting solutions for employment, transport accessibility and, hardest of them all, stigma. Yet it is through empowering those young people with the resources and skills that enables them to speak for themselves and not somebody who has ‘problems’ or ‘deficient’ in comparison to the wider non-disabled public. As an autistic adult, it would have been hard to conceive the path I took just a decade ago – the act of leaving my house on my own was in itself a hard step taken just to achieve a sense of independence.
For many of us, the efforts to be part of the decision making process or a fair chance of making the same grades in education as our peers have to be greater than those who don’t need that extra support. It is not just about ‘inspiring’ others or being the exception to the rule; rather it is about equity and having the same right of respect and dignity that all of us expect.
The stories you read here will present experiences of overcoming barriers and defying the odds, just so generations after us can live in a society that includes and celebrates all disabled people."
Key learning for Further Education (FE) sector:
We are also grateful to ETF for allowing us to use the feedback from the young people involved in the project to collate the findings about their experience of Further Education provision and how this has supported them in achieving their ambitions.
For more information on what they liked about their support from the FE sector and what they would improve you can download our infographic here.