Disability champions create opportunities

Written by: Eureka! | Published:
Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work

The government’s recruitment of technology and product design disability champions represents a new chance for those seeking opportunities regardless of disability.

The UK government has revealed it will be recruiting a new technology disability champion. The announcement was made to coincide with International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD 2018).

The champion will use their influential status as a leader in the tech industry to raise awareness of the need for compatibility of mainstream products with assistive technology.

The assistive technology sector currently contributes £85 million to our economy, and has enriched many disabled people’s lives across the world. But many mainstream businesses are still missing out on disabled people’s custom by failing to design technology with their needs in mind.

The new champion will join the existing 14 champions who are already driving improvements to the accessibility of services and facilities in a range of sectors, including banking, music and tourism.

“There are nearly 14 million disabled people living in the UK, and our world-leading tech industry must ensure that it is capitalising on the spending power of their households – the Purple Pound – worth £249 billion every year," says Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton.

“I want tech companies to be a force for good, ensuring inclusion is a fundamental component of the design process so that disabled people can benefit from the latest innovations.”

Alongside the new technology champion, the Government is also looking for a product design champion to work with manufacturers and designers to improve accessibility.

The existing champions have already made significant progress in breaking down the barriers faced by disabled consumers.

For example, the music champion Suzanne Bull has launched a new industry taskforce aimed at improving the experience for deaf and disabled customers when booking tickets for live music events.

Johnny Timpson is the disability champion for the insurance industry and Industry Affairs Manager at Scottish Widows. Timpson is bringing together representatives from the insurance industry, regulatory bodies and charities for the first time to look at how to make the industry more transparent and inclusive.

Timpson said of his role: “Walking the talk on diversity is essential for the insurance sector, and my champion role enables me to work with the industry to improve access to affordable insurance for disabled consumers.

“Becoming a champion has allowed me to bring key players to the table to agree on a clear set of actions for making the insurance industry more inclusive.”

The disability champions are just one of the ways the Government is ensuring that disabled people can participate fully in society. A whole range of support is on offer to support those disabled people who want to work to find a job that is right for them.

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