Yesterday Paralympians Sophie Christiansen CBE and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson published a letter in The Sunday Times, publicly endorsing More United's campaign to restore the Access to Elected Office Fund. Their co-signatories included 17 high-profile deaf and disabled people, all of them leaders across the realms of business, sport, entertainment and academia.
These people all believe that deaf and disabled people deserve a level playing field to participate in our democracy.
The letter reads:
Our parliament has only five openly disabled MPs. There could be so many more if there was a level playing field.
The Access to Elected Office Fund used to help deaf and disabled people from all parties to stand for election at any level. It ran from 2012 to 2015 and was intended to help with their additional costs: British Sign Language interpreters, assistive technology for blind people and accessible transport all cost money. But the fund was frozen and put “under review” in 2015. That review has not been conducted, and the fund has not reopened.
We are backing calls by the campaign group More United for the government to restore the fund without further delay.
Sophie Christiansen CBE, Paralympian
Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson
Dame Sarah Storey DBE, Paralympian
Canon Ruth Gould MBE, DaDaFest
Professor Tom Shakespeare
Professor Nick Watson
Hassan Khan, cricketer
Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton DBE
Pam Duncan-Glancy, disability rights activist
Lee Ridley, comedian
Eleanor Lisley, Sisters of Frida
Baroness Celia Thomas of Winchester
Liz Sayce, disability rights commentator
Jackie Driver, Breakthrough UK
Stephen Brookes MBE, Disability Rights UK
Professor Peter Beresford
Jeff McWhinney, SignVideo