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Lord Ashley of Stoke: 6th December 1922 - 20th April 2012

Lord Ashley of Stoke, Jack Ashley, the first deaf MP, died on 20th April 2012.

lord ashley portrait He was born into the poorest of backgrounds, yet rose to the highest level of government. One of his passions was education, and was he adamant that all children 'should get the best education possible'. Undoubtedly, Lord Ashley changed our attitudes and perceptions of disability.

When he became deaf at forty five years of age after an unsucessful ear operation, he nearly gave up his career in politics. After all, as a deaf person, how could he take part in debates in the House of Commons? How would he be able to take part in council meetings and help his constituents? However, with the help of family, colleagues and technological support, he continued and became an inspiration to all who knew him.

Lord Ashley understood people, and people warmed to him. For a further forty years he continued to help people in all sorts of trouble. He campaigned tirelessly for the rights of disabled people and gave time to young people that they might, in turn, become effective campaigners.

Ashley School in Widness (named in honour of Lord Ashley) has the first purpose-built School Council chamber in the country. It has various features to facilitate participation for those with SEN or disabilities. For pupils with partial sight, there are dark carperts so that it is easier to see items that may be dropped. Chairs are lighter than the table, and there are particular coloured chairs for the Chairperson and other members of the Executive Committee. For pupils with hearing impairment the walls are soundproofed and a loop system has been installed. There are plasma screens on each wall so that everyone can see visual aids while they look at the person talking.

Are you a young person with a disability or SEN on a Class or School Council? How does your school ensure that you can participate fully? Do you feel that any particular requirements you have are in place to ensure that you can work equally alongside the rest of the Council? It would be great to hear from you! Do let us know how it works for you. Contact