Labor apologized after admitting that a meeting on International Day of Disabled People was inaccessible to some disabled people.
Hosted by Labor Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Vicky Foxcroft, the meeting aimed to gather people’s views on what should be included in the government’s upcoming national disability strategy.
Although the online event included British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, there were no subtitles, which are vital for many disabled people, including those with hearing impairments who do not use BSL.
Yesterday (Wednesday) Foxcroft (pictured left) apologized for the access error and said she was working to ensure that this “does not happen again”.
Just last month, Ellen Morrison (right), Labor’s first elected representative of its disabled members in its national government body, urged the party to look at years of discrimination against its disabled members.
She said at the time it was “very clear that Labor has penalized what disabled members have long needed for both policy and access.”
Repeating that message at the event this week, Morrison told her party to “get her own house in order” and warned, “We are currently in a vicious circle in our party where disabled Labor members cannot access to have labor areas or some can and are discriminated against, and we do not have our own structures in the party to organize ourselves. “
She pointed out that the Disability Equality Act Labor Group had already drafted the changes needed within a party “that historically excluded us.”
Disabled activist and party member Lisa Egan left the online meeting on Monday after discovering that there were no subtitles and therefore could not attend.
Afterward, she said to Disability News Service (DNS), “There’s no point in staying where you’re not welcome.”
She said the failure to organize subtitles was “a very strong statement about who is welcome and who is not”.
She had indicated her need for subtitles on an access form she had filled out before the event.
Foxcroft told DNS, “We really tried to make the event as accessible as possible, from asking attendees to let us know if any adjustments were needed, to having BSL interpreters at the event.
“In the future we will make sure that all events are recorded and [uploaded] Online shortly after so that people who are unable to attend can watch me and contact me with any thoughts. “
She said she was very interested in hearing from someone who could not attend the event and that “if even one person cannot attend, that is one too many”.
She added, “I really hope this doesn’t prevent anyone from accessing future events. We plan to think more about what a new agreement for disabled people should look like.
“It is imperative to ensure that the voices of people with disabilities are heard and that the government is held accountable for its future strategy.
“As the shadow minister for people with disabilities, working with and co-producing policies with people with disabilities is the only way to develop better strategies to ensure we have a truly inclusive society.”
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