About four years ago I was diagnosed with an eye condition called macula degeneration. My vision is slowly worsening and I had to give up driving last year.
The medical support I’m getting is slowing down my visual degeneration and I’m happy with it. I cannot say the same for society’s response to my condition, which has made me feel more and more Disabled.
It seems that services do not check out their documents for readability for people with poor vision.
The barriers I face range from overly small font sizes on Camden Council’s website to colour contrasts between texts and backgrounds that make pages unreadable for me.
It seems that services do not check out their documents for readability for people with poor vision. I repeatedly have to make requests for large-print copies of consultation documents.
It also seems that council officers publishing the documents are unaware (or don’t care) about the legal requirements for “reasonable adjustments.” My hearing-impaired wife often has to read documents out to me.
The issue of inaccessible online information is recognised internationally with the Global Accessibility Awareness Day which takes place on 18th May. The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.
The increasing focus on digital services can risk discriminating against and excluding people who cannot access them.
This year the Equality and Human Rights Commission marked GAAD by publishing a blog about the issue of digital inclusion. The blog says: “the increasing focus on digital services can risk discriminating against and excluding people who cannot access them. Disabled people and older people particularly often face obstacles when trying to access online services.”
But accessible information is obviously about more than online data. My wife struggles to hear people on the telephone. Face-to-face communication for people with hearing impairments can be considerably improved by speech-to-text devices, apparently not available to Camden staff, but routinely used in the NHS.
Street access is also vitally important. My poor vision means that I have to be very careful about falls when getting on and off buses and navigating the broken pavements of Gospel Oak. Requests to the Council for dropped curves are ignored and suggestions such as painting kerbs in bright colours dismissed.
Disabled lives matter; but not, seemingly, to Camden Council.
The Council could easily analyse from the 2021 Census the numbers in the Borough with hearing and visual impairments and allocate resources accordingly.
Why are senior managers ignoring the problems of accessibility of persons with hearing and visual impairment to information? Why are those Cabinet members with responsibility for compliance with the equality laws allowing this to happen?
In stark contrast, I asked a local restaurant for a large print copy of the menu and this will be made available on our next visit. I have been waiting over a week for large print copies of documents from the Council. Disabled lives matter; but not, seemingly, to Camden Council.