This week is  Learning Disability Week  and Mencap are  celebrating first time experiences, ranging from your first day at school, to your first love and first home. 

Too often when we hear stories about people with learning disabilities, it’s because something has gone wrong, so it’s refreshing to hear so many exciting stories.

In a  recent interview for Easy News, Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow told us: “I certainly think that [news can help people to vote].  If you are able to simplify it, which we very often do not, we assume a level of understanding which often isn’t out there.  But I think if you can simplify it, it will make it very much easier for people to vote.”

Today’s is all about your first time voting; your first opportunity to have a say in who gets into Government.  As we found out from our Every Vote Counts campaign, compared to everyone else, the numbers of people with learning disabilities who vote tends to be very low.  In 2005, only 16% of people with learning disabilities voted.  After a series of awareness raising campaigns and the publication of easy read manifestos, this number doubled in the 2010 elections.

While it’s important to have accessible information about elections and how to vote, we found that people were keen to have easy read updates about the news and politics in between elections.  Knowing what happens in politics on a daily basis makes it easier for people to make an informed choice when it comes to voting, which is where the idea of Easy News came from.

Our own research certainly seems to back that up, as over the last year we have seen the numbers of Easy News readers who think politics is important to their lives jump from 31% to 78%.  What we don’t know is whether people’s interest in politics lead to an increase in voting in the recent European Parliament and local elections – we need your help to find out!

We’re keen to find out if accessible news really does help people to vote, so if you have five minutes to spare, please fill out our short survey either for yourself or with the people you support.

Rachel Bowen, campaigns officer.