This year’s conference was themed ‘Technology and the Workplace – fact vs fiction’ and was very kindly hosted by BT at their iconic building, BT Tower for which we are extremely grateful.
The conference was well supported with our thanks to sponsors InterpreterNow, SignLive and RedBee Media together with exhibitors ATLA, SignVideo, Terra Consultancy, BIVR & AVSTTR and The Association of Lipspeakers.
With excellent speakers within programme, many from far afield, it gave the audience the opportunity to listen to interesting topics and gather information and the opportunity to ask questions during the panel sessions.
Our Chair, Craig Crowley MBE, summarised the day saying that we faced a ‘brave new world’, with speakers talking of the future and technology, its impacts and how artificial intelligence may will embed itself as part of our being.
The day set off to a brilliant start. We learn’t of the importance of DAC, ensuring that the quality of standards are in place, a summary of AI and the use of AI to deaf people giving the pro’s and con’s and in hearing technology. We heard of the recent developments in STTR and how technology is improving outputs and how the National Theatre seek to make theatre accessible, with new technology being developed using smart glasses to access live subtitles at National Theatre performances, enabling them to view captions from any seat.
Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Chair of the APPG on Deafness stated the importance of our MPs receiving details of the ongoing issues and encouraged us all to contact our MPs and keep pressing for them to join the APPG on Deafness.
The active and positive research and future improvements involving apps, smartphones and programming hope to make the future more positive and an interesting one.
Lilian Greenwood MP spoke powerfully of the importance of our continuing to campaign ‘to keep the foot on the lobbying pedal’ and chaired the first panel session which provided interesting discussions to take place.
The afternoon focused on the ‘Work place’. Our Employment Group Chair, Darren Townsend-Handscomb set the afternoon scene, updating the audience on the group’s activities and areas around Access to Work. We heard about the impacts and limitations with views from all sides from equality through to an independent assessors point of view. We were updated on the types of support for employees and the possible changes within the workplace. RedBee Media gave examples of how they are utilising their current members of staff and how the disability passport can break down barriers and lastly learn’t about innovative projects for new technological opportunities.
The day concluded with another interesting panel discussion, set by the excellent speakers throughout the afternoon.
Angela Matthews, Head and Policy and Advice, Business Disability Forum said ‘the range of speakers was excellent – to have Government, Third Sector, Audiologists, Academics, Committee Members and Assessors all on the platform is rarely done enough in our sector and made the debates all the more stronger and informed’.
Summary: Keep progressing, researching, raising awareness, developing & improving improving and achieving!
Thank you to all who were involved.