I have to admit, I was prepared for this to be a righteous indignant rant about accessibility or lack there of in conferences… however it has turned into something different and rather more productive.
I get a newsletter from Creative Works London on a regular basis and I was taken with the symposium More Than Accessible: Theatre and Performance in the Age of the Spectator . When I went to book onto the site there wasn’t any accessibility option and when I looked at the venue site there wasn’t any information there either. I wrote a comment saying it as rather ironic that an symposium with ‘accessible’ in the title didn’t have any accessibility information on the site. They replied and said if I emailed them they would help me. I replied and said that I shouldn’t have to go to this extra step to book on. Shortly afterwards they updated the site to say that there wasn’t any disabled access to the site.
I tweeted about this and got into a conversation with Phdisabled amongst others. I decided I was going to write my ranty blog post and emailed Creative Works London to give them the right to reply. Rather that engaging in a back and forth email diagloue they took the radical step of picking up the phone. Suzie Layton who is the Head of Knowledge Exchange and I had an open and frank conversation.
It turns out that they wouldn’t normally use this venue as it doesn’t have good access at all, but they had to run this event on this date and they had tried many other options. She thanked me for bringing it to her attention and for putting accessibility on the top of their agenda again.
Suzie asked me for my opinion about how they should address this, I explained that they should put access information – if it was wheelchair friendly, had a couple of steps etc, including details on the event page, with a link to either the venue’s accessibility page or to the correct page on the rather wonderful Disabled Go site.
Suzie then copied me into an email to the rest of the events team explaining our conversation, how accessibility should be at the top of their priorities and good practice in signposting accessibility details.
What a great outcome. As I said I was prepared for a righteous rant and Suzie picked up the phone and talked to me in an open dialgoue about their mistake and how they could do better in the future. This is how issues should be dealt with. Hopefully Creative Works London’s accessibility to their events will greatly improve in the future and they are removing barriers to engagement by making it easy to get access information. Hurrah!!