RNIB wrote to the Prime Minister in April, with other charities, highlighting inaccessible government updates on coronavirus, and asking him to appoint someone as a national lead to urgently tackle this issue.
We have now received a response received a response to our letter, which had been passed to Justin Tomlinson MP, who has confirmed that the Director of National Resilience Communications has been appointed as the senior lead for accessible information.
We look forward to working with the new national lead to ensure accessibility is entirely embedded in how government puts communications together, and that organisations like RNIB are involved in helping make sure their communications and guidance are put together, when appropriate.
It will still take some major changes within Government to make sure all their updates are accessible, so we’ll see what happens now the new lead is in place, and of course, we’ll keep you updated.
The Government had consistently been sharing vital public health information and other updates in a way that excludes people with sensory or complex disabilities, despite reminders from RNIB and other organisations.
The Cabinet Office has now reissued guidance to all Government Departments reminding them of their duties under the Equality Act that “reasonable adjustments” are made to ensure communications are accessible.
It’s important that as lockdown eases blind and partially sighted people have equal access to the tools that will help us get out and about again, like NHS coronavirus testing, and that the contact tracing app is accessible. We’ve begun conversations on this already and we’ll keep you informed.
Meanwhile, we will also continue our efforts, using the hashtag #InfoForAll, to persuade others who are communicating updates about coronavirus to add alt text to images on social media, include audio in video content and produce alternative, accessible formats for letters and documents that have been circulated to update people on current coronavirus guidance.
You can help by highlighting inaccessible Twitter posts using the hashtag #InfoForAll.