DDA set to ramp-up spending and litigation

Event planners and venues need to act swiftly to keep speed with the opportunities and threats the Disability Discrimination Act brings with it, according Employers Forum on Disability board member Stephen Duckworth. Speaking at last week’s inaugural C&IT Association Forum at Excel London, Duckworth focused on the next generation of disabled employees, forecasting both a rise in spending power and litigation from disabled delegates. “There are 8.7 million disabled people in the UK with a combined spending power estimated at £75-80bn,” Duckworth stated. “We will see many, many more disabled employees in the next ten years. The DDA is leading to much higher expectations from disabled people – especially the younger generation – and those increased expectations will mean people will become much more litigious.” Duckworth went on to list a number of straightforward considerations that he said many event planners and venues were still not getting right: “Don’t just think wheelchairs, think about those who might have breathing problems for example – is there adequate parking near the entrance to the venue? Are any of your delegates lip-reading? If so, provide speakers notes beforehand if possible and arrange seating near the front and brief your presenters.” By way of an example of bad practice, he signed off by quoting the unveiling of the plans for the 2012 Olympic Stadium, which took place last week in a marquee on the site in East London. “All of the wheelchair users were put at the back. This was fine for me because my chair elevates, but [celebrated Paralympian] Tanni Grey-Thompson was next to me and she couldn’t see a thing.”

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