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Disability Capital 2009

Transport for All

TFA attended the Mayor of London’s Deaf and...

TFA attended the Mayor of London’s Deaf and disability equality conference – held at the EXCEL centre on the 25th September.

We had already raised concerns regarding the fact that London’s Disabled People’s organisation had not been involved in setting the agenda for the event. This was despite the fact that the invitation mentioned that the event would ‘include’ disabled people.

TfA director, Faryal Velmi attempted to contact a number of people at the GLA in order to be included in the ‘Transport’ session at the event. We were initially told that the agenda was ‘closed’ and that no-one else could be added to the list of speakers. It was a surprise then to receive an email three days before the event that stated we could be on the panel after all! TfA understands that intervention from TfL Equalities and Inclusion Unit had something to do with it!

We were also disappointed that a stall at the event was being sold at £600plus VAT – putting it firmly out of our (and most DPO’s) price range! Luckily however we were offered a part of Inclusion London’s stall to display our wares.

So off to Excel we went!

Greeted with the banner that the conference was the ‘Mayor of London’s Deaf and disability conference’ – we eagerly looked around for the famous blonde barnet – but Boris was no where to be seen. This was disappointing as his presence would have been a definite confirmation of his support.

The introductory speech was given by Richard Barnes AM – the Deputy Mayor; and while it was good to hear his commitment to disability equality ending his contribution with ‘I hope you don’t ask to may questions, well not difficult ones at least’ was slightly off putting.

Surely that is why we were all here?

With the session cramming in 4 or 5 speakers into 50 mins –one did get the impression that too many questions from uppity disabled people was not part of programme. Although of course, we did get in there!

Andrew Little, the CEO of Inclusion London gave a good speech introducing the remit of the new Pan London organisation.

The Olympics and Para-Olympics 2012 dominated the proceedings – with numerous speakers from LOCOG, ODA and HR solution provider ADDECO (!) listing how disabled Londoners could get involved in the huge spectacle that would be hitting the city very soon. Questions like the involvement of people with learning difficulties, and the affordability of tickets for disabled people on benefits were some of the more searching questions asked.

TfA found some of the language used by panel speakers disappointing. One particular remark from a top TFL manager stating that whilst travelling the general public should help those ‘less fortunate than themselves’ left us reeling.

Does he mean us? Surely what we are after is equal rights, not benevolent gestures.

With no lunch provided we were left to the mercy of purveyors of expensive Paninis – and promptly prepared ourselves for the final session on Transport.

Chaired by Stephen Golden of TfL Equality and Inclusion – other speakers included Wayne Trevor form London Underground, Alice Maynard Campbell of TFL Independent Disability Advisory group (IDAG), Mark Dyer, ODA, Accessible Transport Manager.

Plans for new accessible tube trains on the Victoria Line were one of the more memorable presentations.

Faryal gave a well received speech that included the need for TfL to make accessible transport a political and funding priority – stating that disabled people had every right to use transport services. She also expressed disappointment at the severe cut backs of step free plans on the Tube – stating that if the Government had endless millions to bail out the toxic assets of banks it should find the money to invest into making the London Underground accessible.

Unsuprisingly that went down very well.

All in all it was great to see so many deaf and disabled people being brought together – however their should definitely have been more involvement of DPO’s in setting the agenda, as well as time given for questions and participation from the audience.

Oh and next time could we have a sandwich as well please?!

A man standing in front of a painted brick wall smiling at the camera. He is holding a cane and is wearing glasses, a black jacket and a grey t-shirt. A man standing in front of a painted brick wall smiling at the camera. He is holding a cane and is wearing glasses, a black jacket and a grey t-shirt.

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