Back to Press releases

Learning Disabled and Autistic Leaders honoured

60 leading individuals with learning disabilities and/or autism have today been awarded in the Dimensions ‘Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List 2018.’

LDA Leaders' List 2018

From pressing for change in local communities or on a national stage, to remarkable achievements in sport, arts, entertainment, work and education, winners are breaking through stereotypes and challenging social attitudes.

A panel of 14 judges including people with learning disabilities and autism, journalists and prominent figures selected the winners from nearly 600 nominees. Steve Scown, CEO of Dimensions, who selected the Young Leader and Lifetime Achievement awards, said: “Choosing winners was inspiring, humbling and incredibly difficult. I hope that policymakers, journalists and others now take note and make use of their remarkable skills and determination to achieve change.”

Take Ursula, who at the age of 88 has learned to read. Ben, who uses his lived experiences to teach people about challenging behaviour. Autistic, non-speaking Christopher, who is helping people worldwide to express themselves, often for the first time. And Heidi, who is battling to change attitudes to Downs syndrome under the banner ‘don’t screen us out.’ Four extraordinary people representing the tip of the iceberg.

Welcoming the Leaders List, Sarah Newton MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work said, “The list celebrates the extraordinary achievements of people with learning disabilities and autism, offering role models to inspire our future leaders. It is also an opportunity for the media to accelerate change and break down unnecessary barriers and stigma.”

Scown continued, “Just 6% of people with learning disabilities, and 16% of people with autism, are in work. People with learning disabilities die over 20 years before their non-learning disabled counterparts. Three quarters of people with autism and learning disabilities experience hate crime.

“And yet, across the country, people with learning disabilities and autism are advocating to make life better by changing national policy and practice, and entrenched social attitudes. They are spokespeople, lobbyists, experts by experience. They are actors and singers. They are film makers, receptionists, DJs. The List celebrates their achievements, larger and smaller alike, understanding that nominees may face significant barriers due to their disability.”

The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List – created by not-for-profit support provider Dimensions in association with Learning Disability England and the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group- is the first such listing to celebrate the dedicated, selfless work of 60 of these individuals.

Their voices deserve to be heard. Find, and share, them here and get involved in the celebration using #LDALeadersList2018