Ten years of progress: new cross-sector Audience Access Alliance releases open letter of support championing precious gains made towards inclusion

Marking the 10th anniversary of the Equality Act coming into force and in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we along with 11 other audience accessibility organisations and networks and two government sector champions have come together to form the Audience Access Alliance.

Our first action is an open letter of support and solidarity to our partners across the cultural, sports, heritage and tourism sectors, celebrating the progress that had been made prior to COVID-19, and advocating for continued collaboration to drive forward an inclusive recovery and further positive change for millions of Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people.

Instigated by music and event industry charity Attitude is Everything, the Audience Access Alliance letter is signed by Disability Collaborative Network, Euan's Guide, Hynt, The Access Card, Performance Interpreting Inc, Shape Arts, Signed Culture, Stagetext, Stay Up Late, Transport For All and VocalEyes. 

Additional signatories are Andrew Miller, UK Disability Champion for Arts and Culture, and Heather Smith, UK Disability Champion for Countryside & Heritage. Find out more about the members here [Website]

Follow this link to read the open letter in full [Website]

Welsh Language version of the open letter [Word download]

The Seven Inclusive Principles

#WeShallNotBeRemoved, the UK Disability Arts Alliance formed as a response to the pandemic and to which Shape belongs, have created a new guide for the arts and entertainment sectors to support disability inclusion. The Seven Inclusive Principles for Arts & Cultural Organisations working safely through COVID-19 is designed to complement the suite of guidance documents already issued by UK Governments and sector support organisations. 

The focus of this unique initiative, which builds from the #InclusiveRecovery campaign, is to ensure deaf, neurodiverse and disabled people are not discriminated against as creative work begins again and as venues re-open. The Seven Principles offer practical guidance to arts and cultural organisations to support disabled artists, audiences, visitors, participants and employees.

The Seven Principles are applicable across all art forms and across all 4 UK nations and come with endorsement from a wide range of leading sector bodies including: Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, The Arts Council of Wales, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, British Film Institute, The Museum Association, Theatres Trust, Royal Philharmonic Society and the British Council.

The Seven Inclusive Principles are:

  1. All organisational activities must comply with the requirements of The Equality Act (2010) and make reasonable adjustments to operating practice that ensure disabled people are not unlawfully discriminated against
  2. All actions relating to disabled people should be undertaken in accordance with the Social Model of Disability and aim to combat and eliminate ableism
  3. Co-production with disabled people: disabled people should be consulted when organisations develop bespoke operating or re-opening plans, and undertake Equality Impact Assessments before making decisions
  4. Organisations need to provide clear, accurate and comprehensive information about Covid-19 measures to enable disabled artists, employees, audiences and participants to assess their own levels of risk, and be prepared to adapt to specific enquiries or requests
  5. The customer journey for disabled audiences should be thoroughly mapped, ensuring it is equality impact assessed, clearly communicated in multiple formats to the public, and prioritises free companion tickets to maintain essential access
  6. Disabled artists are an important cultural asset in the UK and their engagement in all new creative projects should be prioritised
  7. Organisations should ensure they celebrate diversity, embed anti-ableist principles to support and protect disabled peopleand should demonstrate due care for the disabled workforce when making decisions about redundancy, restructuring and new ways of working

Available in Welsh, large print, audio, BSL, and Easy Read format here.