Qatar Tourism – The importance of accessibility

15 05 2017

Qatar tourism

Improving Qatar tourism with the Accessible Qatar Conference 2017

Have you ever dreamt of travelling the world but were too afraid of the communication difficulties you’ll inevitably experience? As a deaf person, the sheer effort of day-to-day interactions can be enough to discourage a visit to the grocery store, let alone an exotic travel destination like Qatar.

The small Arab nation jutting out from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf is the world’s richest country, with the highest GDP per capita ($140,649) as of 2016. By taking advantage of their natural gas and oil resources, they have made wise investments into the Qatar tourism industry. People from all around the world are eager to explore Qatar’s exciting desert life, have fun at the Aqua Park and relax on one of their many beaches.

Travelling when deaf or hard of hearing can be challenging, especially because our needs have been largely ignored in the disability movement. Staying abroad in a hotel is a huge safety concern, due to the lack of properly adapted alerting systems. Also, we can’t use the telephone services to call the reception desk when we need something. This is very inconvenient, and that’s before even leaving the “comfort” of your hotel.


Hey, thanks Steve

7 10 2011

I was very sad to read of Steve Job’s passing. His brand of magic has made my life more accessible. I can hear clearly on my iPhone 4 which has a T4/M4 rating – great for listening clarity. I’ve got lots of great applications on my phone which help me in so many ways – talking books, iPod, radio, keeping me in touch with blogging, RSS feeds, Twitter and Skype. I can get my remote captions on it too, for conference calls and meetings. I can’t carry an ordinary laptop around, it’s too heavy and stresses my spine after a few minutes carrying it, so his MacBook Air saves the day. Saves me from a lot of doctor visits too. My little iPod gives me a lot of opportunities to listen to music and talking books, and gives me more opportunities to learn to listen and improve my cochlear hearing.

This article by Tim Carmody touched me …. I hope Steve Jobs knew how much of a difference he  made to people’s lives. He pushed the disability envelope and helped other people to see that there are possibilities and different, and better, ways of doing things.

Love My Railcard, Actually

26 09 2011

Source : Disabled Persons Railcard, UK

This September marks the 30th Anniversary of the Disabled Persons Railcard and to celebrate we’ve come up with an exciting new competition Love my Railcard, actually. We are offering one lucky winner a fantastic full HD camcorder prize package for the best video (or audio clip) submitted which shows us why you love your Railcard.

All you need to do to enter is get your creative hat on and take a short, low-fi film (or audio) clip on whatever device you’ve got to hand such as your mobile phone and tell us about the train journeys you’ve made and why you love your Railcard, actually.

We’ll then reward the winner with the equipment to take their directing skills further with an HD camcorder prize package, including:

HD Camcorder– Panasonic Full HD Camcorder

– 16GB Memory Card

– Protective camcorder case

– Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 editing software

– 2 return train tickets for a journey of your choice within the National Rail network

Terms & conditions, and further information after the jump!

Better telephone access for deaf people

2 09 2010

A news release from TAG hit my inbox today, calling for better access to telephones for deaf people. This saga is really dragging on, but it wasn’t easy obtaining captions either. Dan offers a possible solution. Read on …..


Government call for improved disabled access for 2012 must include better access to the telephone for deaf people

2 September 2010

Government must take the initiative to modernise telephone relay services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people if its call for companies to improve disabled access in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics is to mean anything to deaf people, says TAG, the deaf electronic communications consortium.

The Government-commissioned report 2012 Legacy for Disabled People: Inclusive and Accessible Business shows that almost one-third of disabled people have difficulty in accessing goods and services they want to use. Because of poor access to the telephone network, the percentage of deaf and hard-of hearing people unable to access goods and services is very much higher. As a result the economy suffers and deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens are marginalised.

Ruth Myers, Chairman of TAG, said: “This Government report reflects what TAG has been saying for a very long time: deaf and hard-of-hearing people are excluded from many social and commercial opportunities because of the antiquated way that they must communicate with the hearing world via the voice telephone. Email and texting communications only meet some needs – access to voice telephony is crucial for many employment, commercial and social purposes.

“TAG is campaigning for new types of relay services, such as captioned telephony, video relay and IP relay services, all of which are already available to deaf people in some other countries. Everyone accepts that the provision of additional types of relay service is the way forward, but the trigger for action has to be a Government commitment to find the necessary funding mechanisms. The costs are not high in comparison to the economic and social benefits which will accrue.

“We call on the Government to act now to ensure that modernised telephone relay services for deaf people will be up and running in 2011, ready for use by deaf people to make their booking arrangements for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

TAG is a consortium of the main UK deaf organisations concerned with electronic communications and is campaigning for improved electronic communications for deaf, deafened, hard-of-hearing, and deafblind people, and sign language users.

Follow TAG on Twitter @DeafTAG

Telecommunications Action Group

Media Contact

Stephen Fleming at Palam Communications
t 01635 299116 (voice)

Dan says this one is a no-brainer to fix – for free.
  • Go to and sign up. You’ll be prompted to be assigned a relay phone number.
  • You will enter your address (for expanded 911 service); and then choose an open number in the pool from the pop-up. Write this number down.
  • Now, you can make unlimited free outbound relay calls from your web browser.
But Wait, There’s More!
  • Now, minimize the browser window — We’ll come back to it in a few moments.
  • Next, in a new browser window, go to and get a screen name (skip this step if you already have one). Then, either download the free AIM software, or if you already use another IM service (ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, Google Chat, etc…), download the free Trillian IM software, which will funnel all of your IM services into one small app on your desktop.
  • Install & configure your AIM or Trillian software to automatically launch on startup, and also to autoconnect on launch.
  • Go back to the window and enter your AIM screen name. You can now close that window.
  • Click back on AIM or Trillian and add i711relay to your buddy list. Send an IM with “Hello” in it and you’ll get an autoreply with a couple lines of text.

You now have two additional ways to handle calls:

  1. You can place a call via AIM by sending an IM with the phone number in it.
  2. You can now also receive voice calls on the free number you received when you signed up a few minutes ago.

Now, you can give out that number to hearing friends, family, & businesses as your voice number. When someone dials this number, they will get a relay operator who will send you an IM, and initiate the call.

But Wait, There’s Still More!

Let’s say that the only internet access you have is on a mobile (Blackberry, Treo, or iPhone) via a $35/month data-only plan for the hearing impaired. Simply load the AIM or Trillian software on your mobile, and you can place and receive relay calls, just like on your PC in your home.

Now, let’s say you live in another country and work for an American company: simply enter the US address when you sign up for the service. You will now have a free phone number in the United States for your hearing business associates (and friends & family) to reach you via relay.

How is this all possible… And for free when one end of the relay call is in America?

Every phone line in the United States is taxed about 50 cents per month to fund relay services for the hearing impaired, allowing free enterprise services (such as to thrive in the open market providing services for us. The simple fact is businesses can leverage internet and telephony technology to provide voice relay and turn a profit while doing so.

What a country!

Personally, I would love to see the return of CapTel to the UK. CapTel uses a CapTel phone handset, and WebCapTel uses the internet and any phone including a mobile phone. I was lucky to be able to use both in my job and I found it fantastic – no one realised I was deaf. Unfortunately the company supplying the CapTel service was unable to continue providing it, as it was too expensive to do this without public or government funding. Hence the campaign by TAG to improve telephone relay services in the UK, by either improving Text Relay (formerly Typetalk) or appropriately financing the provision of services such as CapTel and VRS such as SignVideo. You can see SignVideo in action here, provided by Significan’t in London. I found the screen display very clear and could lipread the person.

In the US, you have more than one CapTel provider. You can even get it for Blackberry!

Hamilton CapTel
Sprint CapTel

There is also a service called PhoneCaption.

Calling London commuters

19 02 2010

Transport for London is carrying out research to   understand more about the travelling experiences of disabled commuters. If you are mobility, visually, or hearing impaired, deaf or a wheelchair user, you can take part in this research. Your usual journey to work or college should include travel by bus, Tube or Overground during weekday peak hours and if you travel after 7pm.

A small incentive is offered for completing an assessment form about your journey. The work is being carried out with Accent Marketing and Research.

If you’d like to take part and improve the travelling experience for other disabled people, go online to AccentMR, call 0800 028 4095 or email

See the ability, not the disability

22 10 2008

Employment Opportunities invited me to the Changing Lives Awards at the House of Lords. I was so excited. My invitation said ‘Evening wear only’ so I threw on my bright yellow jacket and off I went, feeling like a traffic light. Cute doggy in tow, of course. The venue was next to the Thames, there was a beautiful view of the London Eye and surrounding parliament buildings, all lit up. There were sparkly chandliers hanging from the ceiling and plenty of trays coming around with wine and canapés. Yum.


Employment Opportunities have helped lots of deaf people get jobs across numerous sectors and at different levels. They aim to change lives through employment. Their vision is of a society where the full potential of people with disabilities is recognised in every workplace. This is the second year they have held the Changing Lives Awards, which recognise employers and individuals who share their vision, and celebrate individuals with disabilities who have overcome barriers into employment. They want organisations to work with them to promote inclusion and diversity in the workplace.

The event was hosted by Lord Archie Kirkwood. Two hundred people attended and I spoke to some of the nominees as well as Employment Opportunities staff. My lipreading skills were well tested by Bryn Roberts who hailed from Australia. He’s the EOpps Employer Development Officer. His dog sounded almost as naughty as Smudge, playing with squeaky toys at 3am! Of course, Smudge got lots of attention.


I had a personal interest as they helped me to secure my first senior finance position after I graduated from university, preparing me for interview, advising me on CV preparation and interview techniques, mentoring me and overall (and most importantly) giving me the confidence in my abilities which came across in the interview.

It’s so demoralising when you meet a potential employer and they haven’t adjusted the recruitment process for you. Or they don’t make the effort to make adjustments in the interview. Isn’t the non-disabled person nervous enough at interviews? Interviews are like pulling teeth. No-one enjoys them. Preparation is the key to a good interview and Employment Opportunities helps people to do that well. They not only work with interviewees, they also work with employers and attend careers fairs across the country. They deliver training on reasonable adjustments, disability awareness, and offer mentoring support as well as pre- and post-employment support. They offer a graduate programme in conjunction with employers such as Barclays, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and the Civil Service.

I think Employment Opportunities should be given an award themselves, for the super work they are doing. Making employers see the ability, not the disability. Helping disabled people to lead fulfilling lives.

Making a difference – a REAL one.

Clap clap clap.

Confused about benefits?

3 09 2008

Do you need to claim for

    Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
    Incapacity Benefit
    Employment and Support Allowance

It’s a minefield and the forms are legendary for their complexity and stupid questions.

I discovered a useful website which gives advice on completing these nightmare forms. Check out Benefits and Work.

This site has a forum and free newsletter. They provide guides to these benefits at £18.95 – it’s worth it if you’re claiming for the first time, you’ve been turned down, or are not getting what you think you’re entitled to. They also provide training.

Some frigging people…..

22 08 2008

Following on from my recent post, Changing the way you see disABILITY, I was thinking that it’s not only about how disability is perceived. It’s also about the follow through, how people with disabilities are treated. I am amazed at what some people think they can get away with. Let me give you an example….

Jean is deaf and shares a flat with her flatmate Brian. Brian is not fully mentally capable and is, basically, a pushover. Now I don’t agree with taking advantage of people with disabilities, I think they should be treated with the same respect as anyone else. So does Jean. So this story makes me wonder what the world is coming to. Jeans tells her story …

Last week I was watching TV around 10pm and looked up to see two strangers standing in my lounge, a young couple. The fella walked over to my open laptop and sat down. I said, hang on, who are you and what are you doing? He ignored me. The girl said something, but I couldn’t catch what she said.

Annoyed, I went to find my flatmate and asked him who these people were. Apparently they were the daughter of the next door neighbours (who were away on holiday) and her boyfriend. I went back into the lounge and asked them to leave. The girl started shouting at me. I had no idea what she was saying, as I can’t lipread people when they shout. They left, then came back later and used Brian’s computer, walking in and out as if they owned the place. It transpired that they had been burgled. I was thinking, that’s strange, why don’t they just phone the police, it’s no use emailing them. When they had gone back next door, I took the opportunity to shut my front door. To have a bit of privacy in my own home.

Around 11pm they knocked again. I asked them why they wanted to use my computer, why didn’t they phone the police? The boy ignored me and wouldn’t reply to my questions. The girl shouted at me, interrupting everything I said. I asked her to calm down and explain what the problem was. She kept shouting. I said I can’t understand you when you shout. She kept rolling her eyes when I asked her to repeat herself. So I said I’m not going to be spoken to like that and shut the door.

I then went off on holiday and came back a couple of days ago. Half an hour after I got back, I got an email from Brian’s mum: “Oh we didn’t realise you didn’t know them, they just wanted to use your computer. We don’t see why that’s a problem.” The next day, I got a phone call from her asking why I hadn’t replied to her email, and she wanted a reply. Grrr grr.

Last night, this boy knocked on my door again and asked for me. I thought, hey ho here we go, I’m going to get a nice grovelling apology.

But, oh no! He asked me if he could use my computer to book airline tickets. No apology and no Please. The flaming cheek! I said NO. And certainly not after his offensive behaviour last week, when he didn’t even ask permission and totally ignored me. I said he could ask my flatmate if he could use his computer. He said “Can I use it now or shall I come back in half an hour?”. I retorted “You have to ASK. HIM. FIRST.”

Honestly. I’m outraged!

Change the way you see disABILITY

21 08 2008

Do you remember the lovable creatures from Aardman Animations? Hei sent me this link, showing adverts with subtitles, sign language and transcripts from Creature Discomforts, a campaign run by Leonard Cheshire Disability.

They’re different and highlight a number of prejudices and assumptions that people make. Has anyone spotted the campaign posters? There is a poster from this campaign at one of the London underground tube stations, which says something like ‘Do you believe in love at first sight? I’m blind and I fell in love at first touch’. That made me think about how one might relate to other people if they can’t be seen – but I would’ve thought you’d find someone attractive through their voice or what they said, and not through touch.

The voices behind the characters are those of people with disabilities, which is fab. Cath the Cat is voiced by Debbie Reynolds, who is hard of hearing and runs her own business, the School of Sign Language.

The characters echo three of my main gripes; patronising treatment, stares, and impatience. I hate people treating me as if I’m thick. I’m not. But what does that say about them? I sometimes say ‘Hey, I wasn’t born deaf either. Why are you treating me like this?’ and watch them go red. I also get fed up with being stared at when I’ve got my Hearing Dog with me. I often feel like saying ‘It’s a dog!’. I hate it when people say ‘It doesn’t matter’ when I haven’t heard them. It DOES matter. I won’t be belittled and anyone who tries is in for a fight. Hey, I’m human too. People put others down because they need to make themselves feel better – if you’re confident and positive, you won’t need to stoop so low.

Hopefully this campaign will raise awareness and make people realise that people with disabilities or medical problems don’t want pity. They aren’t non-people. They’re still people with feelings just like everyone else. They just want respect and independence. They’re as able as the rest of us, they just happen to manage or carry things out in a different way. It’s not nice to have fun poked at you just because you’re a bit different. This is a fun way of getting that point across. I just wish there wasn’t so much focus on wheelchairs and walking sticks – there is a lot of diversity out there!

The story of a sign

24 07 2008

Vodpod videos no longer available.

With a stroke of the pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another man in this wonderfully emotive short film, Historia de un Letrero (The Story of a Sign). The creator, Alonso Alvarez Barreda, was the winner of the NFB Online Competition Cannes 2008 for this short film produced in Mexico/USA. Nothing to do with hearing loss, but what a moving way of portraying an ability that most take for granted. More please.

more about "Video – HISTORIA DE UN LETRERO (THE S…", posted with vodpod