Expert Advisers

How we involve people with lived experience

When it comes to accessible information, people with learning disabilities themselves are the real experts. That's why we regularly work with a team of paid Expert Advisers to help steer our work.

Every month we meet online with each of our experts who have a wealth of lived experience between them. We plan what pictures to make next and review work in progress. We're never more than a week away from getting the advice we need.

Michaela Mamara

My name is Michaela Mamara. I'm keen on horse riding and I have been riding for about 10 years. I enjoy shopping, arts and crafts and seeing my friends. I enjoy being a  DJ at the Bubble Club.

I'm a member of Camden People First. I have a job there, working in the office and answering the phone. I talk for friends and other people who cannot talk.

The first time I went to work in the office there was a bit of paper with lots of small writing on it - I can't read that. If you can't read something, you’re not going to understand things in it. Things are much better in Easy Read.

Hayley Burwood

“Just because I have a learning disability doesn’t make me a bad parent.”

Where I have been
I have learning disabilities and different mental health problems. I’ve been in lots of different care homes and nursing homes and I’ve lived in secure hospitals for a good while in my younger years.

I’m now successfully living in my own home with my child, and I also have care and support throughout the week

What I do

I am a self advocate at Opening Doors. I’m an LGBT mum with a teenage boy. I’m a dedicated trainer. I use my lived experience to help others. I am a public speaker and read my poetry at different events - like Pride and Norwich Rising. I’m an Expert Adviser for Photosymbols. I love using and producing Easy Read.

How I work

I see myself committed to a piece of work. I don’t like to leave a job undone. I get very excited when I get given some Easy Read to do. 

I believe that co-production is the key to everything. I like to help others speak up freely. Helping others gives me a good sense of achievement.

Future plans

I like to see people get the chance to have Easy Read as their first language. I think everyone can get something from Easy Read, even the professionals. There’s still a lot of people that don’t know that Easy Read exists.

My advice when doing Easy Read

Working together with the people who it is aimed at works a lot better. It’s good to quality check it with the people it is aimed at. The most important thing is not to rush it. 

Shaun Webster MBE

"I’m not here just to tick a box - I’m here to have a voice and make a difference.”

I have worked  in Easy Read for many years and I was an International Project Worker for Change. I worked for Change for over 21 years and did a lot of work on LGBTQ+ issues.

I also worked for Leeds & York NHS Foundation Trust as an Involvement Coordinator, making accessible information about health care.

In 2015 I received an MBE for my work supporting people with learning disabilities. I am a trustee of the housing charity Keyring and of South Leeds Radio.


Things that I think are important

LGBTQ+, living independently and people with learning disabilities being parents are important issues to me.

I left school not confident with my reading & writing skills. I got all my life skills off my own back and from having a job. I have co-written and written chapters for several books. I enjoy public speaking - I speak from the heart.

History

At the moment I am working on the All Together History Project about the history of learning disabled people. People need to learn our history - it might change their attitudes.


My advice to people making their own easy read

Always include us from the beginning, not as an after thought. Show your work to people with a learning disability before you send it out.