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Blind Aberdeen student uses Scottish youth parliament role to ‘break down barriers and increase inclusion’

Eilidh Morrison, 20-year-old student who is a member of Scottish Youth Parliament. Photo by Chris Sumner
Eilidh Morrison, 20-year-old student who is a member of Scottish Youth Parliament. Photo by Chris Sumner

A blind Aberdeen student has been using her role as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament to break down barriers and speak-up for others like her.

Eilidh Morrison was first elected into the role in 2019 and was re-elected for another term at the end of last year.

The 20-year-old campaigns for people with sight loss and is on the parliament’s jobs, economy and fair work committee, which she believes is important as currently only one in five blind people are in work.

Miss Morrison has already made waves in the Scottish Youth Parliament getting a motion passed following a Brexit rule change which meant guide dogs could no longer be taken abroad with blind people.

Eilidh Morrison. Picture by Chris Sumner

She said this was a “major safety issue” and described the motion as a “proud” moment, especially since it was later debated by MPs at Westminster.

“Young people with visual impairments are a minority group, and I feel privileged to have been given a voice to try and break down barriers and increase inclusion and accessibility,” said Miss Morrison.

“A really proud moment for me was when my motion on guide dogs being taken abroad was passed by 98% of MSYPs.

“It creates a major safety issue, and affects a lot of blind young people. It’s definitely a good feeling to know you have the opportunity to try and change things.

Grateful for support from NESS

Miss Morrison joined the North East Sensory Services (Ness) youth programme while at school. The charity has supported her through her move to university, helping her grow in confidence and get used to her new surroundings.

She said: “I’m so grateful for the continued support and guidance I’ve received from Ness, they helped me navigate my way around university when in-person classes started, which would have otherwise been a very daunting experience.”

Graham Findlay, chief executive of Ness, said Miss Morrison’s role demonstrates the charity’s main objective.

“The main objective of Ness is to increase independence in those with sensory loss, so we were delighted to see one of our own service users taking up such an important role in the Scottish Youth Parliament,” he said.

Eilidh Morrison. Picture by Chris Sumner

“Eilidh’s presence in the Scottish Youth Parliament helps to inspire other young people with visual impairments, and gives them a voice on important issues.

“We are extremely proud of Eilidh and everything she has achieved so far, and we wish her every success in her chosen career.”

Making a difference

Miss Morrison was born with sight loss due to the degenerative eye disorder Retinitis Pigmentosa and a rare genetic condition called Joubert syndrome, but she isn’t letting that stop her from chasing her dreams.

She studies physics at Aberdeen University and hopes to one day work at Nasa, all the while continuing to defend human rights.

Speaking about her role as an MSYP, she said: “I want people with sight loss to have the same opportunities as those who have their sight, and for people like me not to have to work harder for the same things, or to endure more stress.

“I think it shows other people with sensory loss that they too can make a difference if they shout loud enough.”

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