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Wirral disabilities campaigner joins national charity to launch newspaper
A WIRRAL disability campaigner has helped to create the first ever newspaper for people with learning difficulties.
Kaliya Franklin, from Hoylake, joined forces with national charity United Response to design ‘Easy News’ which was launched on Wednesday in the House of Commons.
The newspaper uses simple words and pictures to explain current news stories to those with learning disabilities.
And Kaliya, who campaigns daily for disabled people, said it was essential that all parts of society have access to current affairs and important news.
She told the Globe: “I have worked with United Response for a while as they created a easy-read version of a conversation I had with Ed Miliband last year and it wasn’t until later that I realised there was no way of people with learning disabilities accessing general news.
“It is essential that these people have a way of reading about politics and current affairs as they will usually have the right to vote but at present, they sometimes don’t know what they are voting for.
“If they can have a better understanding of policies and decisions, they will be more likely to vote and help to change the views of the people in charge of making massive changes, especially as a lot of the cuts affect them.
“I am really excited that we have created something which young children, who have recently been diagnosed with a learning disability, know that they can use so that when they are 18 they go and vote and have access to democracy and justice in the way that everyone else has.”
According to United Response, just 11% of people with learning disabilities read newspapers as a result of their complex language, while just 16% said they were interested in politics.
Part-funded by the Big Lottery, the newspaper, which will be produced every two months, will cover top stories from 2012 including changes in the NHS and recent successes in the Paralympics.
However it is hoped that, if successful, the project will expand to become more frequent and up to date.
Kaliya, who suffers from Ehler Danlos Syndrome, said: “At the moment, we are publishing every other month as a trial for the first year as it is very time consuming and it takes up a lot of resources trying to condense news into such a simple format.
“There is a panel of people who have learning disabilities themselves deciding which stories should be included and what is important to them.
She added: “It is exciting but also very sad that in 2013, this is the first time an effort has been made to get people involved. I hope this leads to an increased understanding of those with learning disabilities and how important it is that they are included and able to know what is happening.”
Easy News is available in paper, downloadable PDF and audio versions. For more information visit www.unitedresponse.org.uk/easynews