In celebration of Equality, Diversity, and Human Rights Week, we asked one of our amazing Right to Dream ambassadors to share her thoughts about her journey with human rights and the Right to Dream project to date.
Alison Dunbar has been one of the Right to Dream ambassadors from the start. Alison has shared her dedication, passion, knowledge and lived experience of being deafblind and living with sensory loss.
What do human rights mean to you?
Human rights to me have changed over the years. When I was younger, I always thought it was about particular groups of people, like political prisoners, or those fleeing troubled homes looking for safe havens, and their basic rights, like water, food, shelter, and sanitation. I never thought it could apply to a wider group of people, or to me.
Even the smallest things, like the right to access information in a format that you can use, or the right to education and reasonable adjustments that allow people with disabilities to access it just like everyone else. I also now know that it applies to how you live your life, how you want to live it and with whom, and that is all completely up to you.
I would say my changed views have a lot to do with gaining more knowledge, and being involved in the right kinds of groups, trainings, and people. A lot of what I have learned is based on other people’s life experiences, as they can make you think “oh gosh, stuff like that has happened to me as well”, and it makes you realise that human rights affect everyone every day.
Generally, I would say that society’s understanding of human rights has improved over the years, but there is a lot that still needs to be done.
How has your Right to Dream project journey been?
The journey hasn’t ended, it is ongoing. There is new legislation coming in, new findings come in, it’s ever evolving and changing.
It has been incredibly emotional because I listen to people’s stories and experiences, and there is discrimination, and some changes have been very slow. For example, hearing that young people today still have struggles with accessing the correct learning and assessment materials in university, which was my experience many years ago.
No one should have to accept being second class or feel that they aren’t someone worth teaching or educating. No one should be made to feel less than what they are. It can be hard to think that you deserve better
Has the Right to Dream training been educational?
It is always educational. Every day is a school day, and you can learn a lot from other people. The training helped me to learn how to overcome barriers, and how to identify those barriers.
For example, hearing about how guide dog users are treated and refused service, and then learning about what they can do about it. That makes me think maybe I could do that too.
It has boosted my confidence to know what my rights are, because I am more confident to do something about it. Standing up for yourself can be hard as you might not know where to go, but the training has helped with that as well. I know the importance of getting the correct advice and assistance, because it is not always for a lack of trying that things don’t always work out, you may have lacked the correct support.
Alison shared some final thoughts:
We should never stop trying to strive to be better, whether it’s as a human being, or to help other people. We shouldn’t always just assume legislation will take care of it, we should always try and improve things ourselves if the legislation isn’t working. People still need to have an input and a right to say okay this bit isn’t quite working for us, rather than just leaving it alone.
One of the things that would make me the happiest, is when we get to a time when we don’t have to keep having the same conversation about human rights and equality, access to information, one’s ability to live freely the life you want, travel, education, living where you want to live, being with the people you want.
No one should have to justify that, but unfortunately some disabled people do as some people say that ‘disabled people can’t make their own decisions, they don’t know what they are doing, they aren’t classed as normal’. So, one of my dreams would be that we come to a point in history where we don’t have to think about these things anymore, and it just happens.
People are treated with dignity and respect automatically, regardless of whether someone has a disability, or English isn’t their first language, or what your religion is. We have to be the change we want to see in the world.
More information about the Right to Dream project is available at this link: Right to Dream
Posted on the: May 11, 2023