Reported by Scottish Legal Ness– the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media. 

Janis McDonald, chief officer at deafscotland, highlights the importance of inclusive communication – sharing information in a way that everybody can understand.

Inclusive communication is short on money, focus and understanding with a distance to go to meet the needs of the one million people in Scotland affected by deafness. However, managing the response to COVID-19 has alerted politicians to the imperative of inclusive communication. Now we all have a role ensuring this opportunity to change for the better is permanent.

A hurdle to be overcome is the confusion with “accessible information”, as most people are unaware of the difference. Describing the difference with a relatable experience is useful: getting asked to the party and being informed about it (accessible information) is not the same as being involved in the planning, delivery and enjoyment of it (inclusive communication). In my mind, the difference is between an approach that offers “inclusion” rather than “integration”. I say inclusion is not enough and things need to change and a good start is making sure the law is upheld and enabled by culture, policy and know-how.

Inclusive Communication has achieved cross-party political support to deliver a growing body of law in Section 6 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No 2) Act 2020, Section 9 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, Section 6 (7)(b) of the Consumer (Scotland) Act 2020 and Section 4(2) of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. Cross-party support has also secured the British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. The Equality Act 2010 expects reasonable adjustment to support inclusive communication such as language interpreters, speech to text software, subtitles, hearing loops and other communication devices including hearing aids themselves.

The COVID-19 emergency response has exacerbated an existing crisis because of the lack of inclusive communication in the planning and delivery of publicly funded services. Going forward, there are alliances to be built around compliance and delivery to make Scotland a more inclusive and integrated place to learn, live and work. Alliances also help us understand what works


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