Within Issue 106

Welcome to the Winter edition of PMLD Link, with its focus on access.

Firstly, many thanks to all who contributed to this journal – it simply wouldn’t exist without you! When thinking of access, we could easily be drawn into a narrow perspective. Considering access is much more than just the physical ability to enter a building, get on transport or go to a museum etc. Although these are important, access runs a lot deeper and relates to the very fundamental rights and needs of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) to have equity in society. Without these, how can we ensure that they have access to a meaningful quality of life?

In this issue we explore an array of articles that provide us with some valuable and inspiring ideas of how we can work towards this. We do consider basic needs, such as accessing nutrition safely, communication, interactions but we would also argue access to genuine enjoyment, love and a sense of belonging are essential to a fulfilled life. This needs to be viewed as a lifelong journey of progress, right from a young age where education and a relevant curriculum enables children to learn to interact and respond to their environment and the people in it – something that continues across the lifespan. Enriching lives with creative approaches like using sensory approaches in daily life, combining music and Intensive Interaction or innovative ways to access art. Articles also tackle more sensitive issues of how to provide support and genuine access to relationship and sex education provides access to adult life. How do we cover issues such as consent with people with PMLD? How can we encourage them to enjoy their sexuality?

Developing communication and empowering connections are underlying themes throughout this issue. Whether it is valuing access to literacy and reading as a way to create a window on the wider world, ensuring the repetition of familiar and predicable experiences within accessible environments or perhaps the use of accessible communication by unfamiliar people and professionals, our authors valuably share varied ideas and opportunities to enable greater access.

We have come a long way from the disability hospitals, such as Stanfield View. Only a few decades ago these institutions were the most common option for children and adults with learning disabilities; people were segregated and hidden away, denied access to the community. People with learning disabilities are now more and more visible, cared for in their own communities and with the right access, live lives with a sense of choice and control. They now have greater access to society. However, we can, and must, go further. One step towards understanding how to do that is providing people with PMLD access to meaningful inclusion in research.

As always, we try to bring you the latest relevant news, along with all our regular features – reviews, useful publications and resources and information of future training opportunities and events.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue of PMLD Link and thinking more about what access means to you, or your situation – as always, we’d love to hear! It has been a pleasure for our volunteer editors to create this Winter journal.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year. Thank you for supporting all we do at PMLD LINK.

Guest Editors: Wendy Newby, Michael Fullerton, Maureen Phillip and Annie Fergusson.