In exactly one month's time, voters will be asked to decide whether the UK should either leave or remain in the European Union (EU).
This is a very important issue that will affect the future of the United Kingdom and everybody in it for decades to come.
Although this is a decision that could have significant consequences for disabled people, almost nothing has so far been made available publicly about the potential impact of the vote on the 12 million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability who live in the UK.
Consequently Papworth Trust has produced a report in order to help inform the debate. The report can be found here.
It is unlike anything else that has been produced and has focused on over 300 directives and regulations from the EU that are specifically about disability. Its purpose is not to direct disabled people one way or the other, but to inform them and to help them engage with the issues and come to a decision.
Producing an impartial and balanced information pack is the right thing to do.
Disabled people will of course want to take into account many relevant questions apart from those that are addressed in the report, perhaps whether jobs in the UK might be lost or gained, or whether trade might increase or decrease, or whether immigration is good or bad for the economy, or whether national security might be better or worse in or out of the EU. These matters will be debated by the rival campaigns and their pros and cons will be argued out over the coming weeks. They are not discussed in our report.
Having used our service-user forums to run workshops on the EU Referendum over the last three months, we understand that disabled people are yearning for more information that can help inform their decision.
We hope this report is of use.
In conclusion please also remember that any voter with a disability is entitled to assistance in gaining access to their polling station and assistance in marking their ballot paper. Visually impaired voters are entitled to see a large-print version of the ballot paper and to ask for a tactile voting device. All British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in and registered to vote in the UK are entitled to vote. The deadline for registration is 7 June 2016.
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