National Association of Deafened People Conference 2019 – Travel, Leisure and the arts

Good day and happy weekend to you!

Last weekend, I was very kindly invited by the NADP (National Association of Deafened People) to come to their annual conference in London to listen to speakers on about travel, leisure and the arts for people with deafness and hearing loss. Also, I was invited to give a presentation on about train travel too!

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It was a fantastic and POSITIVE day meeting deaf people from all walks of life and also people and organisations who aspire to improve accessibility for deaf people. Yep, that sounds like a good day too!

First off, after grabbing myself a coffee, I listened to the Chair of NADP, Lidia Best, opening the conference. It was extremely interesting to hear from her as not only Chair but also the Vice President of the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH) AND mentoring and training participants in the principles of the United Nations Convention of the Right of Persons with Disabilities. In a sense, she really inspired me. I could have listened to her all day but she gave way to all the speakers who would be attending.

Lilian Greenwood MP, NAPD President

The first speaker of the day started with an update from Lilian Greenwood, elected MP for Nottingham South, and the Chair of the Transport Select Committee in Parliament. She is also a long standing member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness. Therefore it would be really interesting to me as a Deaf Traveller to hear what activities have taken to improve accessibility for people with deafness by Parliament and the Government.

She advocated for subtitles on TV and on demand, which is about to become legislation much to my joy. Countless times I want to watch a programme to see it’s not subtitled but, having said that, it is slowly improving. She also gave an update to the BSL GCSE campaign also to address hearing aid cuts in NHS Clinical Commissioning Group areas – naughty people! It was really interesting how much Members of Parliament try to push accessibility through Parliament and Government.

However, as Chair of the Transport Select Committee, she was really interested to see how we could further improve accessibility for people with hearing loss – a reason why she was there today.

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Neck Tedd – Hearing Loss Won’t Stop Me

A prolific instagrammer, this deaf and happy-go-lucky hairdresser has travelled around the world, campaigning for deaf awareness around the world one person at a time, one day at a time. His presentation was filled with issues he faced around the world whether it was staying in hotels, flights etc but more importantly, he came with solutions – whether it was getting yourself an ID badge from Hearing Link, taking hearing technologies around the world with you, downloading travel apps to ensure you connect to travel companies online, Google translate and more! His presentation was really informative and very funny! Find out more about his work here: https://www.instagram.com/hearinglosswontstopme/

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My presentation!

Then it was my turn! I did a presentation on about travelling on trains in the UK – sharing stories of issues I faced on a typical train journey or when I found myself in a predicament such as the time the train rolled into a train depot with me on it after I didn’t hear the tannoy tell me to get off at the last train station. But again, I came with solutions as well what train companies and Network Rail should be doing to improve accessibility for people with deafness and hearing loss. It isn’t a lot to do as the technology and infrastructure is already there such as delivering real-time mobile alerts for any changes to your journey etc. Also, it’s all about maintaining equipment as 9 times out of 10, I would find a broken loop on the platform.

I could see Lilian Greenwood eagerly taking notes and I look forward to be sending her my presentation to share with her Transport Select Committee.

I felt like my presentation went down a hoot as I honestly believe that to get your message across, you need to deliver stories, instead of mind-numbing facts and figures,  to challenge the taboo of deafness and the lack of deaf awareness in the UK.

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Accessibility within travel services

I looked forward to this segment. What are travel companies and organisations are doing to improve accessibility for people with hearing loss?

First off, it was Stuart Tarn from British Airways who seem to be absolutely keen in this in their Beyond Accessibility Project. They cover deaf awareness in their staff training and to encourage staff members to ask passengers if they need assistance and listen and learn what deaf passengers have to say. Also, they really want people to book special assistance well in advance so they can ensure you have what you need on the day. Finally, BA hopes to make inflight entertainment a lot more accessible by ensuring their films and programmes are subtitled. Spot on!

A source of discussion was the Sunflower Lanyard that you can find in airports in London and Scotland. They have been brought in to help staff recognise people with hidden disabilities and be ready to support you if you wear one. You can order it in advance to be delivered to your home or ask for one when you arrive at specific airports.

Then it was the turn of Tabitha Allum from the National Theatre to explain accessibility in theatres that could be taken forward with smart glasses with subtitles showing in the lenses. It’s a great invention and I’ve still yet to try it. You can find out more here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/your-visit/access/caption-glasses

Clare Hill, a real-time stenographer showed her latest project working with the Fringe Festival to show live captioning in theatre shows and it’s her fifth year working with the festival showing more shows that are accessible. You can find out more here: http://clairehillrealtime.com/edinburgh/

Ellie Parfitt, aka the deafieblogger gave an update to the subtitled cinema campaign to show more subtitled screenings in cinemas across the UK. You can tell her disappointment that the cinemas aren’t progressing with this as much as the deaf community would have like (read here for her update) and we wonder what options are there next. But it was heartening to see the members of NADP to give her boost to keep going with this.

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Then StageText gave a very enlightening presentation from Melanie Sharpe, CEO. I always assumed that StageText offered just subtitles screenings for theatres but it was great to see they are looking at improving subtitling in all streams whether online, closed captions and more. They had a message that ‘one size doesn’t fit all, the future is about choice.’ I look forward to see what that future holds.

Then we had a presentation from Zoe Moores about re-speaking to provide access for deaf people at live events and how other audience groups may benefit from this service. It was really interesting as it wasn’t a service that I have heard before!

Finally, we had a good presentation from Barry Ginley who is the Equality and Access Advisor at the Victoria and Albert Museum to improve accessibility for people with hearing loss including more BSL shows, subtitled videos on site and online and more. Great work!

All in all, it was a fantastic day to learn more solutions that I haven’t heard of before and also to hear updates and movements in accessibility within the travel, arts and leisure industries.

But more importantly, it was great to hear how everyone was POSITIVE about things. It’s very easy to stamp your feet and complain but to see everyone striving to find technologies and solutions to things, it was awesome!

Thanks to NADP for inviting me!

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