We all have wanted to attend meetings or events but have been prevented from doing so because no communication support, such as a speech to text reporter, notetaker or lipspeaker, was available to enable us to follow the proceedings.
Under the Equality Act the provision of such support may well be a reasonable adjustment for a service provider to make, in which case they should be making it available. But there are many occasions when it might not be reasonable for the organiser of such an event to meet the cost of doing so. They may even want to be inclusive for deaf people but just simply not have the financial resources to do so. It is unlikely that a public body could ever justifiably evade its responsibilities by not providing communication support, but for a small local charity or business paying for the support could be beyond their means.
We have therefore decided to set up the NADP Communication Support Scheme to offer financial assistance to provide adequate communication support to a member in cases where such support has been refused by a service supplier and this refusal is reasonable. Assistance under this scheme will be available exclusively to paid-up members of NADP, and will not be made in cases where communication support has been unreasonably refused. In those cases NADP would endeavour to make the service provider aware of their responsibilities under the Equality Act. And anybody making an application to the scheme must first have tried to get the organiser of the event to provide communication support.
The rules of the scheme are set out here and an online application form is available here. Alternatively, download and post the application form. We are allocating a limited amount of funding to this scheme so awards will be on a first come, first served basis and the decision of the Trustees whether or not to make an award will be final and binding. If an award is made under this scheme it will be paid to the communication support professional who has provided the service on receipt of an invoice – the payment will not be made directly to the member applying.
We think this scheme is completely in line with NADP’s charitable purposes and we hope it will be successful in both making events accessible to members that they would otherwise have been unable to benefit from and will also help to raise awareness of the benefits of communication support.