I seem to have gone from one extreme to another lately. After a relatively relaxed October, November has been really busy, and in a good way. I appeared on TV and radio to raise awareness of digital accessibility, promoted audio description at a trade exhibition, learnt a great deal about Ancient Greece, explored London’s illuminated bridges, highlighted more scam emails, bought some new Blu-rays and music, and enjoyed various things on TV.
So there’s plenty to cover this month, and I hope you enjoy this post and video summary of it all. As always, I haven’t received any gifts or payments by anyone mentioned in this post, and all opinions are my own.
The internet is an amazing resource, enabling people to instantly access products, services, information, communication, entertainment, etc, anywhere and at any time. And it’s especially useful and important for disabled people, for whom such a direct connection with the world around them plays a vital role.
However, there are still many websites, social media feeds and apps, and other technologies such as self-service checkouts and kiosks, that are partly or wholly unusable by disabled people, due to poor accessibility. This means they cannot access information and purchase products from many retailers and service providers, as they are unjustly hindered or prevented from doing so. As a result, they either don’t buy anything at all, or find accessible competitors instead. Which means many businesses are missing out on the benefits of a huge market worth £274 billion a year!
The same logic also applies when disabled people are prevented from gaining physical access to buildings, facilities, transport, etc, which is a vitally important and huge issue in itself. But for this post I’m focusing on the digital side.
Disability charity Scope have therefore released the findings of their survey on inclusive design, which illustrates the impact of poor digital access. This is to help them publicise The Big Hack, a comprehensive online resource advising businesses on best practice for digital accessibility and inclusion. And to help with the promotion, Scope invited me to take part in some media coverage, which included my first ever TV appearance! Check out my little bits of stardom here:
Newspaper – The Independent, 2 December– I was given a mention in this article. Registration is required, but doing so allows you to read 1 free article per month, or you can pay a small subscription to read more.
So in this long post, which I’ve divided into sections to break it up a bit, I want to:
For clarity, I have not been paid or gifted for my interviews or this post. This is just a topic I feel strongly about, so I was happy to take part in the media coverage, and all opinions here are my own. I also encourage you to research the subject of accessibility further, including the resources on The Big Hack, as there is no way I can cover everything, and no single person is a complete authority on the subject. I’m just talking about things from my own personal perspective, so I hope my thoughts and experiences are useful.
This week Prince became the latest in a seemingly bewildering number of prominent celebrity deaths in 2016. After Lemmy from Motorhead passed away at Christmas, the Grim Reaper seems to have been putting together his own entertainment festival, picking up people like David Bowie, Victoria Wood, Glenn Frey, Ronnie Corbett, Paul Daniels, Terry Wogan, Frank Kelly, Alan Rickman, and many other, with Prince being the latest. We’re only in April and already the year hasn’t been great for the celebrity world.
I don’t have a guide dog, because I can see well enough not to need one. But I have many friends who do use them, and I would certainly consider applying for one if my sight ever deteriorated to a level where it might be useful. They are the most beautiful and amazing animals, and I have a lot of respect and admiration for them, and for those who train and use them. They aren’t just pets, they’re a real lifeline to their owners, enabling so much freedom and independence.
And yet, sadly, there are still people out there who don’t understand or respect guide dogs or the blind people who need them – something which has, yet again, become clear in the past few days.