Make Senedd accessible to people with photosensitive epilepsy

Plaid Cymru MS Sioned Williams recently urged the Senedd to ‘ensure it is accessible’ to those living with Photosensitive Epilepsy.

Becci Smart

Photosensitive epilepsy campaigner, Becci Smart, who raised the issue with Sioned Williams.

This follows campaigning by activist Becci Smart from Coytrahen in Bridgend, who lives with photosensitive epilepsy and whom Sioned Williams is mentoring through the Equal Power Equal Voice programme, a programme which aims to break down barriers to democratic participation and increase diversity of representation in public life.

Photosensitive epilepsy is a rare type of epilepsy – affecting 3% of those with epilepsy in the UK – in which seizures are triggered by flashing or flickering lights, or high contrasting patterns.

In a question on Wednesday to the Senedd Commission, South Wales West MS and Plaid spokesperson for Social Justice and Equalities, Sioned Williams called for “equality of access to buildings for people like Becci with photosensitive epilepsy.”

Sioned Williams MS said:

“LED panel lights need to be used in public buildings such as the Senedd, as opposed to other forms of lighting, whose flicker can also cause problems for some autistic people and migraine-sufferers.”

“The Senedd could also help people like Becci by ensuring any defective lighting be switched off as soon as the fault is noted, to ensure the continued health of susceptible visiting public to the estate and replaced as soon as possible; that any additional or decorative lighting that may be displayed is set on ‘constant’ rather than flicker; and that all videos created or funded by the Senedd Commission do not contain flashing images.

“It is essential that we take the necessary steps to ensure that the Senedd, and our democracy more broadly, is accessible to everyone.”

In response, Senedd Commissioner Joyce Watson MS said that “the majority of the lighting is LED downlighting in the Senedd”, and that the Senedd was “currently exploring options to replace the last remaining fluorescent strip light” in the building.

She went on to say that she would “welcome” conversations with Sioned Williams and those who live with photosensitive epilepsy to see if there were any other measures that could be taken to make the Senedd more accessible.

Epilepsy campaigner, Becci Smart said:

“I thank Sioned for raising this issue. It’s a small step in the right direction for those of us living with photosensitive epilepsy who face barriers in our daily life some of which are insuperable obstacles.

“Those who struggle with photosensitive epilepsy are beginning to get recognition in Wales and it’s welcome that there are voices in the Senedd who appreciate the challenges we encounter daily and who are working to reduce the burden for us." 

Watch Sioned Williams' question below:

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