Today’s Queen’s Speech represents a chance for the government to set out its agenda, a particularly significant opportunity in the run up to the General Election next year.

Changes to policy and legislation have a powerful impact on the lives of everyone in Britain, including the 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK and other vulnerable groups.

However, due to the complex language often used in legislative documents and policy proposals, this large group of people are often left unaware of important changes that could affect their lives.

While some government bodies and departments already make information accessible to those with learning disabilities through an easy-read format, this is still the exception rather than the rule, and it remains unclear how much of the draft legislation mentioned in the Queen’s Speech today will be made available in this format.

Prior to the last General Election, United Response started campaigning to make information about the democratic process and political debate easier to understand for the thousands of people with learning disabilities who are not using their vote. In 2010, we launched our Every Vote Counts campaign which highlighted the barriers facing people with learning disabilities and how they could be overcome, and then last year we launched Easy News, a free accessible news magazine which aims to make news easier to understand for people with learning disabilities. The publication offers those with learning disabilities the chance to access information on current events and the political landscape.

Feedback on both of these projects has been incredibly positive, as has the response to the recent Easy News specials that we have produced firstly on the Chancellor’s Budget and most recently on the European and local elections. We know that documents of this kind make a huge difference to people’s understanding of the world around them and their ability to take part in it and that is why we will be producing more of these documents in the run up to the general election to encourage people with learning disabilities to get involved in important national conversations.

We hope that, through our campaigning on this issue, all government departments and public bodies will recognise the importance of making information available in this way, and that a bill on accessible information may one day feature in a future Queen’s Speech.

We believe that it is only by making information available in this way that people with learning disabilities will truly get to have their say and be equal participants.

If you would like to find out more about the voting process and how to take part, download our Election Planner or email everyvotecounts@unitedresponse.org.uk

Gemma Tayor, media assistant.