The global forum to further the empowerment and inclusion of disabled people.

Fringe Events

Several fringe events took place as part of the RI World Congress. These included:


UK Employment Fringe Event

Building on the day one programme of the RI World Congress, the UK Employment Fringe Event included two informative, thought provoking and interactive sessions.

Both sessions provided an opportunity for questions followed by an interactive collection of views, ideas and challenges. 


Session 1: Employment – making the workplace work for disabled people

Date: Wednesday 26 October

Time: 09:00-10:30

Location: Lammermuir Room

Session 1 focused on the experiences of both employers and employees. Two Barclays Apprentices recounted their stories including the challenges and rewards they have faced. We also heard from employers Kenneth Laing, CEO, Dovetail Enterprises, a social enterprise and Jamie Lawson, Senior Manager for Haven PTS, a supported business.

Presentations covered:

  • The experience of disabled people entering employment and the realities of being in the workplace
  • Experiences of local employers in recruiting and supporting a disabled person in their businesses, including the challenges and benefits
  • How supported businesses can provide a stepping stone into mainstream employment for disabled people


Session 2: A true partnership approach – a joined up approach to halving the disability employment gap

Date: Wednesday 26 October

Time: 11:00-12:30

Location: Lammermuir Room

Session 2 covered how partnership working and innovation in commissioning and contract delivery can improve employment outcomes for disabled people. Ainslie McLaughlin, Director of Procurement for Scottish Government, gave his view on the social-economic benefits the Scottish government is looking for from its procurement.

Gemma Hope, Head of Policy, Research and Communication at Shaw Trust, highlighted innovative partnerships with local authorities that are leading to increased outcomes for disabled people and George Selmer, Director of ThinkWinDo looked at how partnership approaches could feature in the new Work and Health Programme.

Presentations covered:

  • What partnerships and “joined-up” approaches commissioners are expecting as part of the new Work and Health Programme and Scottish equivalents
  • The Shaw Trust partnership approach to redesigning and delivering mental health employment support in Kent. The challenges and successes of building a partnership with disabled people, local authority statutory services, the voluntary and community sector and other service providers
  • How devolved powers and responsibilities to national and local government influence and drive the delivery of local health and employment support.


Danish Rehabilitation Fringe Event

Session: The structural contexts of rehabilitation in different societies

Date: Wednesday 26 October

Time: 10:30-13:00

Location: Lowther Room

Panel debate and round table discussions.

Rehabilitation is important for many groups of people and works in a variety of societal settings around the world. Every rehabilitation process is constituted by factors of health, social inclusion, participation of all, employment, and human rights. A strong individual mission and goal is a key element in rehabilitation. But, growth and movements of societies are other important outcomes.

This session provided the opportunity to be informed of a number of professional, institutional, political, legal and financial structures from different countries. There were a handful of short presentations from different parts of the world, giving an overview of the current status of the contexts of rehabilitation. Each presenter answered the question: What have been the main developments in your country since the year 2000?

There was also the opportunity to participate in group discussion and share knowledge of regional and national structures, considering the questions: In which direction is rehabilitation in your own society moving? Where are the main challenges and potential moves forward?

The session ended with an open and informative debate between the panel speakers and the audience.

The session was open for all and was of particular interest to decision makers, policy and professional leaders at all levels. The session pointed in the direction of the connections between individual improvements of lives and moving societies.

The session was arranged by Rehabiliteringsforum Danmark, the host of the next (24th) RI World Congress 2020, to be held in Aarhus, Denmark. This session was seen as a stepping stone to the following four years of rehabilitation development.


Speakers’ Corner

Date: Thursday 27 October

Time: 09:00-12:30

Location: Mentieth Room

In this session, speakers from around the world shared their latest ideas, research, innovations and more.

Download a PDF with the full list of speakers and their time slots (pdf, 42.5 KB opens in new tab or window)


Drake Music Scotland: Digital Orchestra

Date: Thursday 27 October

Time: 13:30-15:00

Location: Lammermuir Room

Drake Music Scotland’s Digital Orchestra was a unique ensemble where the instruments were tailored to the musicians – ensuring that Everyone Could Play Music. Musicians in the orchestra had a variety of disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to learning difficulties and autism. The Digital Orchestra was the first of its kind, not just in the UK but in the world, where every note was performed by musicians who would not be able to take part in current mainstream orchestras. The members of the Digital Orchestra used these innovative devices in combination with 10 different music software programmes and apps to play, compose and perform their own original music.

Some examples of musicians included:

  • Stephanie Forrest – performed by playing music on an iPad using the Thumbjam app
  • Chris Jacquin – played a score triggered by biofeedback sensors picking up his facial muscle movement on the innovative Brainfingers system
  • Rhona Smith  – conducted the ensemble and performed parts of a musical score on her Laptop using USB Keys switching and Notion software

Drake Music Scotland runs a dynamic programme of regular music lessons and group sessions – MusicSPACE  and each of the Digital Orchestra musicians has developed as a direct result of attending this unique programme over a number of years, building their skills and experience, and their musicality as well as performing skills.

Inclusion is promoted through high profile partnerships with collaborators such as the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. This laid the foundations for the young musicians to come together to form the Digital Orchestra launched in April 2016 with a premier performance of their new composition ‘Imagine the Future’.  They also performed on 24th July 2016 at the Opening Concert of the International Society for Music Education (ISME) World Conference at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.  They performed at the RI World Congress – Create a More Inclusive World at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 27th October where they represented Scotland as an example of excellence in inclusive music.