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Audience Access Alliance calls for events industry to include deaf and disabled people in COVID recovery

By | Published on Thursday 1 October 2020

Attitude Is Everything

A group of audience accessibility organisations, led by music charity Attitude Is Everything, has formed a new coalition under the name the Audience Access Alliance. The launch coincides with the tenth anniversary of the UK’s Equalities Act coming into force, and the group’s aim is to further improve access to events for deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people.

Announcing its launch, the alliance has posted an open letter offering solidarity with the struggling event and live entertainment industries during the COVID-19 crisis – and adding its support to the #WeMakeEvents campaign – but also calling for businesses in those sectors to ensure that they include strategies for further improving accessibility in their recovery plans.

“Deaf and disabled people are a vast and diverse group in the UK, 14.1 million – 1 in 5 people – people”, says the letter. “The total spending power of families including at least one disabled person is estimated at £274 billion a year”.

“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. Narrowing of participation gaps have also been seen across heritage, museums and galleries. And deaf and disabled people made up 12% of Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation audiences in 2018/19”.

“COVID-19 is deeply affecting all of us at a personal level”, it adds. “Deaf and disabled people are amongst the groups most impacted, with 2.2 million people told to shield and millions more having to take extra precautions due to existing and newly acquired COVID-related access requirements and health conditions”.

“Not every disabled person is medically ‘vulnerable’ to COVID-19”, it continues, “but our deep concern is that all disabled people will be impacted if COVID-19 erodes the growth in accessible choices we have worked so hard to secure”.

It adds that the organisations in the Audience Access Alliance can offer support and advice across music, sport, heritage, tourism and other areas of culture.

As well as Attitude is Everything, members of the alliance include Disability Collaborative Network, Euan’s Guide, Hynt, The Access Card, Performance Interpreting Inc, Shape Arts, Signed Culture, Stagetext, Stay Up Late, Transport For All and VocalEyes.

Read the full open letter here.