Holyrood adopts 10-year-old's '˜hidden disability' signs

TEN-YEAR-OLD Grace Warnock has scored a notable victory for equal access by persuading the Scottish Parliament to adopt her specially-designed 'hidden disability' signs.

Thursday, 17th March 2016, 2:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd March 2016, 6:59 am
Iain Gray MSP and ten-year-old Grace Warnock unveil a new disabled toilet sign, designed by Grace, which is now in place at the Scottish Parliaments accessible toilets. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Grace, from Prestonpans, has Crohn’s Disease, which means she has to make frequent visits to the toilet. But because there is no outward sign of her illness, she often got “dirty looks” when she used disabled loos.

She decided if people were going to acknowledge “invisible disabilities” there needed to be a change in the signs used for disabled toilets, so they did not suggest they were only for wheelchair users.

She came up with a sign which adds two figures with a heart symbol to illustrate “invisible” disability. And she launched the “Grace’s Sign” campaign to get it adopted in public buildings. The campaign’s Facebook page has had more than 2000 likes.

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Now the parliament has installed her sign in three locations in public areas of the building.

There is also a plaque in place to explain Grace’s campaign near the souvenir shop.

Grace and her mum Judith visited the parliament on Disabled Access Day last week to unveil the new signs along with East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray, who backed her campaign.

Crohn’s disease is a long-term condition causing inflammation of the lining of the digestive system. More than 115,000 people in the UK suffer from it.

Mr Gray said: “Grace and her mum have struck a real chord with their Grace’s Sign campaign to overcome prejudice and misunderstanding about the use of accessible toilets.

“When they asked for my help with their campaign, I did not hesitate to give my advice and support.

“However, at that early stage I did not fully appreciate the wide-reaching impact of the campaign’s message. Their dedication and commitment to highlighting this issue and raising awareness about it has been inspirational to thousands of people, not only here in East Lothian, but also across Scotland and beyond as well.

“I am delighted that the Scottish Parliament has responded so positively to the campaign.

“Using Grace’s Sign at accessible toilets on the parliamentary estate sends out a powerful message to others across Scotland that these toilets are there for everyone with a disability, regardless of whether or not it is ‘visible’.

“Grace and Judith, along with the many thousands of people from East Lothian and elsewhere who have supported their campaign, deserve great credit for this latest achievement and I wish them continued success with the campaign.”

East Lothian and South Lanarkshire councils have also agreed to try out Grace’s Signs in public buildings.