Nicola Sturgeon pledge over disability rights

The First Minister will pledge to safeguard the rights of disabled people when she speaks at a conference this week.

Nicola Sturgeon says she's "proud" of the progress made in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

Nicola Sturgeon will say that the needs of disabled people will remain at the forefront of policy-making in Scotland following the devolution of new powers from Westminster.

In a major speech to the Rehabilitation International World Congress in Edinburgh, she will outline the Scottish Government’s plans to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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She is also expected to say that Scotland will safeguard the rights of disabled people in the workplace after employment service powers are devolved to Holyrood in 2017.

Ms Sturgeon will say: “In the nearly 60 years since the first UK-based Rehabilitation Congress, the way that we think about disabled people and disability has changed markedly - and for the better.

“On an international level, the issue of disability rights has become a major focus of the human rights agenda - particularly through key milestones like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“We have already safeguarded the rights of 2,800 of our most severely disabled by establishing the Scottish Independent Living Fund and we are committed to using the new powers we will shortly gain to positively influence the quality of life for people with a disability.

“We also want to take away some of the anxiety felt by disabled people by reforming the assessment process for the disability benefits being devolved and will embed dignity and respect in our new social security system.”

More than 1,000 delegates from around the world will attend the event, which is taking place in the UK for the first time since 1957.

Ms Sturgeon will say: “I’m very proud of the progress we have made in Scotland.

“I know that there is still much that we need to learn and do which is why this Congress is so important - not only will it increase our collective understanding of the challenges disabled people face every day, but will also help guide the future actions that we all need to take to deliver a more equal and inclusive world.”