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Key deaf and disabled organisations form alliance

On the 10th anniversary of the Equalities Act, the newly formed alliance has penned an open letter urging sectors to continue the support

By IQ on 01 Oct 2020

Andrew Miller, the government-appointed disability champion for arts and culture

Andrew Miller, the government-appointed disability champion for arts and culture

Twelve audience accessibility organisations and networks, along with two government sector champions, have come together to form a new informal group, Audience Access Alliance (AAA).

Founding members of the AAA include live music and event industries charity Attitude is Everything, alongside Performance Interpreting, Disability Collaborative Network, Transport for All, VocalEyes and more.

Andrew Miller, appointed by the government as a disability champion for the arts and culture sector, has also joined the AAA.

Today, the AAA published an open letter – marking the 10th anniversary of the Equalities Act – to urge the cultural, sports, heritage and tourism sectors to continue consulting with deaf and disabled audiences – even despite Covid.

The letter notes that despite deaf and disabled people being among the most impacted by Covid, not every disabled person is medically “vulnerable” to the virus and there remains a strong desire among many to participate in inclusive online events and return to in-person activities such as gigs as soon as rules allow.

“We can enable you to consult with deaf and disabled audiences, ensure that the gains we have jointly made are not lost, and help secure the widest possible audiences to support you in the difficult times ahead,” the letter reads.

“We can enable you to consult with deaf and disabled and help secure the widest possible audiences”

Jacob Adams, head of campaigns, Attitude is Everything added: “We are delighted to be joined by like-minded colleagues in forging this unprecedented Audience Access Alliance, extending a message of solidarity to the sectors we are proud to support.

“The need for cross-sector collaboration and conversation has never felt more vital, with unprecedented pressures on the industries we support, and so many parallels regarding the conversations we are having to support accessible reopening.

“Collectively, we champion the importance of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences to the UK economy, and the role they can play in aiding the industries they love in the months and years ahead.”

Andrew Miller, UK government disability champion for arts & culture said, “Disabled people’s continued participation in live events and culture has been severely threatened by this pandemic.

“So I fully endorse the Audience Access Alliance call to the industry to ‘build back better’ and ensure that essential access is not only maintained but enhanced, making the recovery fully inclusive of disabled audiences in all settings“.

Since the Equalities Act came into force, participation by disabled people across the cultural and creative sectors has increased significantly.

In 2019/20, 76% of deaf and disabled people engaged with the arts (vs 77% of non-disabled people), closing the estimated 9% gap in engagement recorded in 2008/09.

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