On Wednesday 1st April, 2015 the team travelled to Petaling Jaya to spend the morning with United Voice (UV), the Malaysian Self-Advocacy Organisation. This was an exciting visit for the team, not least because Dan Goodley and United Voice are old friends. Dan first visited UV in 2006 where he was keynote speaker at the 1st National Seminar on Self-Advocacy for Persons with Learning Disabilities in Malaysia (http://www.unitedvoice.com.my/newsletter/2007aprilnewsletter.pdf). Johari Jamali, a former president of UV, and current secretary, recently described Dan as the group’s ‘guru’ and reflected on the impact Dan’s visit to UV had back in 2006. Since 2006 United Voice has grown as an organisation with self-advocacy groups meeting all over Malaysia. We met United Voice in the building that they now own in Petaling Jaya where members told us more about the growth of advocacy work in Malaysia since 2006. The building is home to a workshop, art gallery, meeting rooms and a shop selling products made by members of UV. If you want to learn more about United Voice or to support their work visit: http://www.unitedvoice.com.my/contact.htm.
In the afternoon, we were delighted to be able to meet with the team at Gamuda Engineering and Construction (http://www.gamuda.com.my). Gamuda told us about their work with people with learning disabilities and their innovative approach to supporting people into employment. We were particularly grateful to The Group Managing Director who met up with us – Dato’ Lin Yun Ling – and gave up his time to meet us. We met with some of the disabled young people working at Gamuda in a variety of roles in their offices in Kuala Lumpur. We shared good practice stories around supported employment and self-employment being developed by Keith Bates and the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities that have been documented in our Big Society research findings. The team were supported by Yeo Swee Lan who has helped to lead job coaching initiatives in Malaysia.