I’m Emily Yates, a 28-year-old, pink-haired wheelchair user with a Yorkshire accent that just seems to be getting stronger, the further away from my hometown I move. I work for Enhance the UK, a user-led disability awareness charity. Our core team is made up of a bunch of strong, brilliant and beautiful women I wish I’d had in my phonebook when I was 15, and laying in bed at night terrified about how I would navigate sex and relationships as a disabled person.
Enhance the UK provides disability awareness training, British Sign Language workshops and accessibility audits to businesses and organisations all over the UK and further afield. As a user-led charity, all of our trainers have impairments themselves. As well as training, we focus on the sexual rights and responsibilities of disabled people. Disabled women are three times as likely as their non-disabled peers to be sexually abused, and sex education in schools is still far from inclusive. We set up the 'Undressing Disability' campaign to support disabled people in having romantic lives that are both safe and fulfilling, and we do this by providing free resources, giving talks at relevant conferences and events, and running our Love Lounge, a Q and A forum that encourages disabled people and their loved ones to write in (anonymously, if they wish) with any questions surrounding love, sex, dating and relationships. We call ourselves the ‘non-expert sexperts’ and if we don’t know the answer, we’ll find someone that does! Until we are all able to have safe, fun and fulfilling romantic relationships, there’s plenty for us to be getting on with.