Update

Organisers have stepped up efforts to find BSL interpreters following @alisonvsmith’s postings on twtitter – thanks to the  intervention of great people on Twitter especially @DC10plusnetwork and @sarahkatenorman.

It is clear that without this very public cryout by @alisonvsmith it would fall through the big digital exclusion cracks in the floor and be ignored.

Sadly there has been no reply to Alison since 26th February and she is stuck with being unable to register her place in all this time.

National Digital Inclusion Conference restricts deaf access

Taking place 10th and 11th of March in London this is a key event in the Digital Inclusion calendar (follow on twitter as #NDI10 )

Alison enquired on 25th January 2010 what access especially if BSL interpreters would be available [there is no dedicated information listed on their website]. A prompt reply back informed her they were looking into it.

Nothing was heard until last week on 26th Feb Civic Regeneration, the conference organisers advised Alison that:

“in relation to deaf people in particular, accessibility will be restricted to stenography online

and in the room and hearing loops in all the spaces where the conference is taking place.”

There you have it – is this digital inclusion? Helen Milner from UK Online Centres has said she would look into it and we hope for a more positive outcome.

Accessibility Working Group “too busy to organise BSL support”

To make matters worst  their email informed us they have tried to organise BSL ‘at the last minute’ as their dedicated accessibility working group were ‘too busy to take this role on’ as planned.

To quote:

“We have consistently tried to improve the accessibility of the event year on year, and this year in particular using our contacts at BIS, who have recently set up a dedicated accessibility working group for digital technology, we offered the steering group members the opportunity to lead on this for the conference.

Unfortunately they (leading charities) have themselves been too busy to take this role on and we find ourselves at short notice now unable improve on last year’s accessibility. Our own attempts at the last minute to organise BSL in particular has proved unsuccessful as signers require more notice than we have had available (a month) to book them.”

Under the Disability Discrimination Act service providers (in this case Civic Regeneration) have to provide reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of Disabled people. Is their response reasonable? To provide some access for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people who use text and induction loops but not BSL?

Access to Work provides BSL interpreters for Deaf people in work – because of the DDA they will not pay for support that should be covered by service providers at conferences such as #NDI10.

If Pesky People can attend next week – it will cost us more to be there

If BSL support is provided  Alison Smith has to arrange rail travel at short notice and accommodation both more expensive than if booked over a month ago when she first enquired.

So for Pesky People, this is the true reality of digital inclusion. We are not considered worthy enough to be included.