Access to Politics

We work to reduce the barriers disabled people face participating in politics and running for elected office in Scotland. We manage the Access to Elected Office Fund and give guidance and support to disabled people getting involved in politics.

There are 1 million disabled people in Scotland. To have a representative Scottish Parliament, there would need to be 26 disabled MSPs.

In 2016, only 1 person who openly identified as disabled was elected to the Scottish Parliament. In 2021, 6 people who openly identify as disabled were elected to the new Scottish Parliament. (This information is based on MSPs who openly identified as disabled at the time of their election.) To be truly representative of disabled people, the Scottish Parliament would need 20 more disabled MSPs.

We need to remove disabled people’s barriers to political participation so that we have greater representation in the Scottish Parliament, local councils, and political parties, and are recognised as equal decision-makers on the issues that matter to all people across Scotland, disabled and non-disabled alike.

 

Advice and support to disabled people on accessing politics

We offer advice and support to disabled people to become more involved in political life, from joining a political party or starting a campaign, through to running for elected office and beyond. We aim to address the barriers preventing disabled people from fully participating in politics, and promote greater representation of the skills and lived experience disabled people offer.

If you are a disabled person, we can:

  • Discuss your political activities and the barriers to participation you face
  • Consider sources of support and/or reasonable adjustments that could help address these barriers
  • Work with you to develop an action plan for boosting your participation
  • Offer you the chance to share your experiences with others to help them too, as part of our Access to Politics network

If you are a group or party organiser, staff member, or officer, we are happy to respond to specific questions on improving accessibility for political events and activities. We can guide you on:

  • Accessible events, meetings, and training
  • Communications materials
  • Obligations under the Equality Act and electoral law
  • Suggested good practice above and beyond legal obligations

To access advice and support or for further information, please contact the Civic Participation Team at civicparticipation@inclusionscotland.org.

 

Guidance on Accessing Politics

We have developed our Guidance on Accessing Politics as tools to inform disabled people looking to get involved in politics, and all those who wish to make politics more accessible for disabled people.

Guidance on Accessing Politics

A guide for disabled people looking to get involved in politics, and all those who wish to make politics more accessible for disabled people.

 

Get the Guidance on Accessing Politics in alternative formats and in BSL.

 

Access to Politics Charter

Inclusion Scotland developed the Access to Politics Charter to address barriers preventing disabled people from becoming fully involved in politics. We launched the Charter at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 14th June 2018 and signed by all five Scottish political party leaders.

In the Charter, political parties affirm that:

  • We shall produce and publish a statement outlining how we will support disabled people’s participation in every aspect of our activities.
  • We shall support and resource a disabled members’ group within our party.
  • We shall commit to positive and proactive provision of disability equality training to elected officers, staff and party members.
  • We shall ensure that the language we use about disability recognises it as a societal issue with societal solutions.
  • We shall investigate alternative means of participation such as remote presence and internal digital voting.
  • We shall voluntarily publish data on protected characteristics of our candidates in line with section 106 of the Equality Act 2010 for all elections, including Scottish local authority elections.
  • We shall investigate job-sharing for internal elected roles and for elected public office.
  • We shall actively support and encourage disabled people to stand for elected office and explore mechanisms that ensure the election of a representative number of disabled candidates.

Inclusion Scotland continues to work with parties and their disabled members to report on how Charter commitments are accomplished and where parties need further development.

Access to Politics Charter

The Access to Politics Charter is a list of commitments that political parties have signed up to. It aims to reduce the barriers to participation in politics for disabled people. The commitments were co-produced with disabled activist from across Scotland.

Get the Charter in alternative formats and in BSL.