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Disability is nothing to hide, so let’s not act like it is

As a candidate for my home town in May's local elections, I've helped residents fight for repairs to roads, I've lobbied for more action on dog mess and I've campaigned to prevent closures to residential homes.

As a blind candidate for my home town in May's local elections, I've done all this while helping changing a few attitudes along the way. I spoke here about a mother who was delighted to see someone like her visually impaired daughter standing for election but a lot more has happened too - I've even received messages from young disabled people saying that me standing is a confidence boost for them.

I'm sure many readers will agree with me that standing for election is a mix of emotions - there are ups and there are downs.

But after the diversity debate, there's a particular part of being a blind candidate that needs to be tackled head on - and so I turn to Lib Dem Voice.

I use a white cane and after spending the majority of my child and teenage years unable to leave the house alone, I'm pretty proud that I can now campaign without any sighted help. There are sometimes hiccups, but nothing that can't be solved.

But after being told by a senior activist that I should crop my cane from campaign photos or somehow hide it, I was horrified. I stumbled over my response and changed the subject. I've since explained to them that disability is nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of - even under the guise of fighting for votes.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the only time it's happened and I know it'll happen again.

So after seeing another visually impaired member at York conference, I want them to know that they can stand for election if they want to - but more importantly, I want them to know that they can do it without worrying about the attitudes others have faced.

I call on you, readers of Lib Dem Voice, to remember this article and if you ever consider telling a disabled candidate to hide who they are, please don't. And if you ever hear someone else saying something similar to what I've been told, please call it out.

* Henry Foulds is a member and activist in Amber Valley, Derbyshire. He is standing in May's local elections.