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Isherwood: Defending the rights of disabled children

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I start by thanking the Chair, Gwenda Thomas, for her genuine dedication and commitment throughout this process, and also the committee's secretariat for their characteristic hard work and patience with all of us.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with the reference group over the past two years, and it is the committee members who have learned from the reference group as we have gone along.

The group's first message to us was one that everyone here could benefit from listening to, which was to speak more slowly and to stop using big and complicated words. How right they are.

As one young person said at the launch of this report at lunchtime today, the reference group thinks that the Committee on Equality of Opportunity has done important work, and that is a message that must be borne in mind by the new Assembly after May.

Another member of the reference group speaking at today's launch stated his hope that Assembly Members realised that disabled young people do not have choices when they leave school. For me, that summed up the whole purpose of this report. Why is it that disabled young people are always left until last?

We have heard a reference to the Disability Rights Commission, and, of course, it endorses the report and is pleased that the committee has listened to the evidence presented.

As the commission says, it was refreshing to see that the reference group of young disabled people was involved throughout the lifetime of the review. The opportunity for direct involvement in the evidence-giving sessions by asking questions of decision takers and policy makers properly reflected the approach that was adopted—nothing about us without us.

As the Disability Rights Commission states, the first steps for the Assembly Government in responding to the report must be to accept the recommendations in full, to advise the committee on any implementation work currently under way, and to establish a cross-cutting action plan.

It also states that all political parties in Wales must take up these challenges in the run-up to the forthcoming Assembly elections in May, and the incoming Assembly Government must incorporate the review's recommendations into its priorities for the third Assembly.

This report is about real access and inclusion. Sorry, that was jargon. Young people must be involved in working out the best ways for them to develop the skills that they need to live a fulfilling life.

Information and services from the public, private and voluntary sectors must be as accessible as possible for them. They need an environment in which they feel comfortable, and their needs must be fully understood.

Disability equality training should be delivered by people with appropriate experience, such as local disability fora and relevant voluntary sector organisations. We need a co-ordinated policy for education, training, and employment pre and post 16, including early identification and appropriate assistance throughout the transition from young person to adulthood.

All staff working with disabled young people in schools must receive adequate training to support them fully, and, in this context, I note with concern the recent research published by the National Union of Teachers, which found that only 18 per cent of teachers feel confident about teaching those with severe learning difficulties.

The Assembly Government and the Department for Work and Pensions must work together to overcome the disincentives in the benefits system to work experienced by disabled people, as we have learned and as we have heard.

The strategy to provide British Sign Language services must be monitored and reviewed regularly. Access to buses, taxis and trains is not just about being able to get a wheelchair on board; it is about information, confidence and attitude, and disabled young people must have enough information about transport that is accessible and up to date. Housing policy must ensure that the needs of disabled young people are met.

These and many more compelling recommendations deserve and demand a positive response. I will leave the last word to the Disability Rights Commission, which states that this is only the first step in a much longer journey to ensure that the challenges presented in the recommendations are met and that the issues that the review could not fully support are taken up.

Young disabled people should have further opportunities to become involved in shaping their futures and to achieve real improvements to all areas of service provision. Thank you, and thank you especially to the young people."

"Dechreuaf trwy ddiolch i'r Cadeirydd, Gwenda Thomas, am ei hymrwymiad a'i hymroddiad gwirioneddol trwy gydol y broses hon, a hefyd i ysgrifenyddiaeth y pwyllgor am eu gwaith caled arferol a'u hamynedd gyda phob un ohonom.

Mae wedi bod yn bleser ac yn fraint cael gweithio gyda'r grwp cyfeirio dros y ddwy flynedd ddiwethaf, ac aelodau'r pwyllgor sydd wedi dysgu oddi wrth y grwp cyfeirio wrth inni fynd yn ein blaen.

Neges gyntaf y grwp inni oedd un y gallai pawb yma elwa arni, sef yr angen i siarad yn arafach a rhoi'r gorau i ddefnyddio geiriau mawr a chymhleth. Mae'r hyn a ddywedasant mor wir.

Fel y dywedodd un person ifanc wrth i'r adroddiad hwn gael ei lansio amser cinio heddiw, mae'r grwp cyfeirio o'r farn bod y Pwyllgor Cyfle Cyfartal wedi gwneud gwaith pwysig, ac mae honno'n neges y dylai'r Cynulliad newydd ei chadw mewn cof ar ôl mis Mai.

Mynegodd aelod arall o'r grwp cyfeirio a siaradodd yn y lansiad heddiw ei obaith bod Aelodau'r Cynulliad yn sylweddoli nad oes gan bobl ifanc anabl ddewisiadau pan fyddant yn gadael yr ysgol.

I mi, yr oedd hynny'n crynhoi holl bwrpas yr adroddiad. Pam bod pobl ifanc anabl bob tro'n cael eu hystyried olaf?

Clywsom gyfeiriad at y Comisiwn Hawliau Anabledd, ac, wrth gwrs, mae'n cefnogi'r adroddiad ac mae'n falch bod y pwyllgor wedi gwrando ar y dystiolaeth a gyflwynwyd. Fel y dywed y comisiwn, yr oedd yn beth braf gweld grwp cyfeirio o bobl ifanc anabl yn gysylltiedig â'r adolygiad yn ystod pob cam o'r adolygiad.

Yr oedd y cyfle i fod â chysylltiad uniongyrchol yn y sesiynau rhoi tystiolaeth trwy holi penderfynwyr a llunwyr polisi yn adlewyrchiad teg o'r dull a fabwysiadwyd—dim byd hebom ni. Fel y dywed y Comisiwn Hawliau Anabledd, y camau cyntaf i Lywodraeth y Cynulliad wrth ymateb i'r adroddiad fydd derbyn yr argymhellion yn eu cyfanrwydd, i hysbysu'r pwyllgor am unrhyw waith gweithredu sy'n digwydd ar hyn o bryd, a sefydlu cynllun gweithredu trawsbynciol.

Dywed hefyd bod rhaid i bob plaid wleidyddol yng Nghymru dderbyn yr heriau hyn yn y misoedd cyn etholiadau'r Cynulliad ym mis Mai, a bod rhaid i'r Cynulliad newydd ymgorffori argymhellion yr adolygiad ymhlith ei flaenoriaethau ar gyfer y trydydd Cynulliad.

Mae'r adroddiad yn delio â mynediad a chynhwysiant go iawn. Ymddiheuriadau am ddefnyddio jargon. Rhaid cynnwys pobl ifanc yn y gwaith o ganfod y ffyrdd gorau i'w galluogi i ddatblygu'r sgiliau sydd eu hangen arnynt i fyw bywyd llawn ac ystyrlon.

Rhaid iddynt allu cael gafael ar wybodaeth a gwasanaethau'r sectorau cyhoeddus, preifat a gwirfoddol, a hynny mor rhwydd â phosibl. Rhaid sicrhau amgylchiadau lle maent yn teimlo'n gyfforddus, a rhaid deall eu hanghenion yn drylwyr.

Dylai hyfforddiant mewn cydraddoldeb anabledd gael ei ddarparu gan bobl sydd â phrofiad priodol, megis fforymau anabledd lleol a mudiadau perthnasol y sector gwirfoddol.

Mae angen polisi cydlynus ar gyfer addysg, hyfforddiant, a chyflogaeth cyn ac ar ôl 16 oed, gan gynnwys canfod cynnar a chymorth priodol yn ystod y cyfnod pontio rhwng ieuenctid ac oedolaeth.

Rhaid i bob aelod o staff sy'n gweithio gyda phobl ifanc anabl mewn ysgolion dderbyn hyfforddiant priodol i sicrhau eu bod yn derbyn cefnogaeth lawn, ac, yn y cyd-destun hwn, yr wyf am nodi gyda phryder ymchwil ddiweddar a gyhoeddwyd gan Undeb Cenedlaethol yr Athrawon, a ganfu mai dim ond 18 y cat o athrawon sy'n teimlo'n hyderus ynglyn â dysgu rhai ag anawsterau dysgu difrifol.

Rhaid i Lywodraeth y Cynulliad a'r Adran Gwaith a Phensiynau weithio gyda'i gilydd i oresgyn yr anghymhellion i weithio yn y system fudd-daliadau y mae pobl anabl yn eu profi, fel yr ydym wedi'i ddysgu ac fel yr ydym wedi'i glywed.

Rhaid monitro ac adolygu'r strategaeth i ddarparu gwasanaethau Iaith Arwyddion Prydain yn rheolaidd. Mae mynediad i fysiau, tacsis a threnau'n golygu mwy na gallu mynd arnynt mewn cadair olwyn; mae hefyd yn cynnwys gwybodaeth, hyder ac agwedd, a rhaid i bobl ifanc anabl gael digon o wybodaeth am drafnidiaeth sy'n addas ar eu cyfer ac sy'n gyfoes. Rhaid i bolisïau tai sicrhau eu bod yn diwallu anghenion pobl ifanc anabl.

Mae'r rhain a llawer mwy o argymhellion grymus yn haeddu ac yn mynnu ymateb positif. Gadawaf y gair olaf i'r Comisiwn Hawliau Anabledd, sy'n dweud mai'r cam cyntaf yn unig yw hwn mewn siwrnai lawer hwy i sicrhau bod yr heriau a gyflwynir yn yr argymhellion yn cael eu hateb a bod y materion na allai'r adolygiad eu cefnogi'n llawn yn cael sylw.

Dylai pobl anabl ifanc gael cyfleoedd pellach i gyfrannu at ffurfio eu dyfodol ac i gyflawni gwelliannau gwirioneddol i bob maes darparu gwasanaeth. Diolch, a diolch yn benodol i'r bobl ifanc."

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