A disability charity has refused to apologise for

first_imgA disability charity has refused to apologise for holding a fundraising comedy night in an inaccessible London venue.Action onHearing Loss (formerly known as RNID) was raising money as part of its DeafAwareness Week with an evening of stand-up at The Comedy Store in London.Performers included Angela Barnes, Samantha Baines, Ed Gamble, Eshaan Akbar, Russell Howard (all pictured, left to right) and John Bishop, three of whom have hearing loss themselves.But thevenue chosen by the charity is not accessible to many disabled people, with TheComedy Store warning on its website that it only has a “chair lift”which “cannot bear the weight of a person in a wheelchair”.This meansthat any wheelchair-user “must be able to leave their wheelchair, descend viathe chairlift, then retake their wheelchair once at the bottom of the stairs”,so “large electric wheelchairs are unable to gain access” to the auditorium.Alan Benson,a disabled campaigner and activist from London, said: “Funding is a challengefor everyone so events like this are very important, but it’s vital that we getthem right. “In asociety that routinely discriminates against disabled people we must make surethat we support each other and run fully inclusive events. “I know thatthose with hearing impairments routinely face barriers to participation so Iwould have hoped for better.”Benson, whouses an electric wheelchair himself, added: “London has many great accessiblevenues so there is no excuse not to use them. “By usingvenues like The Comedy Store, we validate their inadequate provision. “To justifythe event by saying it was accessible to some disabled people is simply notgood enough.”Whenquestioned about the inaccessible venue, Action on Hearing Loss (AHL) refusedto apologise or say why the event was held in a venue which was not accessiblefor many wheelchair-users. It alsorefused to say what kind of message that decision sent to wheelchair-users withhigh support needs, and whether it suggested that raising money and “awareness”of AHL’s work was more important than including people who use electricwheelchairs.But aspokesperson said in a statement: “At the launch of Deaf Awareness Week, it wasimportant that the charity gave people with deafness and hearing loss theopportunity to attend an iconic comedy venue that has played host to some ofthe most famous performers in the world. “To achievethis, the show was supported by BSL interpreters, live subtitling and a hearingloop. “But it wasnot just those with deafness and hearing loss who came to the show, people withvarious disabilities were also in attendance, including those usingwheelchairs. “We arecommitted to breaking down the barriers that prevent inclusivity for all and wewill continue to work with venues to help improve their accessibility.”A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img

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