Inclusion Scotland has begun using online participation technology in a bid to widen access to political events and meetings for disabled people.
Recently conducted research within political parties as part of the Access to Elected Office project (which concluded in March 2016 – report to be released soon) highlighted that many disabled people find it very difficult if not impossible to attend meetings, due to impairment barriers, a lack of accessible venues or reasonable adjustments, or because of anxiety, cognitive impairments or mental health conditions. Several interviewees cited alternative participation options such as live streaming and teleconferencing as having the potential to transform the level of involvement they could have.
Some political parties have begun to experiment with making such provision, such as the SNP live-streaming its party conference, and a branch of the Scottish Green Party recently ran an experiment in offering both a live broadcast and the facility to take part in its meeting via text-chat, and has changed its rules to allow voting to take place at meeting via such methods for those who are “tele-present”. During the current election campaign the One in Five group has been keeping a running “score sheet” of accessible formats for manifestos being provided by political parties, and indications are that this has encouraged greater efforts to be made to make these available.
Beginning with using the Periscope live video sharing platform for some recent events, Inclusion Scotland will now be upping the technological ante by running a high quality live broadcast of an upcoming event via YouTube, with live chat to allow those not able to attend in person to contribute. Online participants will be able to follow presentations and speeches, and when the event focus moves to table discussions the camera will adopt a viewpoint as part of a table group, and an operator will feed any text contributions into the discussion.
For deaf and hard of hearing participants, the speech during the event will be close captioned in real time by an online service. Participants will be able to view the captions on a browser screen during the event. The transcript will then be turned into subtitles for the recording, so that an accessible video will be available after the event for later viewing.
The event, run in partnership with Disability History Scotland, will include a presentation on the Access to Politics project and the newly announced Democratic Participation Fund (which will provide financial assistance to disabled candidates for selection and election in the Local Authority elections in 2017) and then move on to focus on the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections, asking participants the questions they wish to put to candidates,
With candidates from the five main parties expected to attend the event, take part in some discussion with groups of disabled people and then face a traditional “Question Time” election hustings, it will be a great opportunity for disabled people to find out for themselves who deserves their votes, and demand better policy for disabled people from our future elected representatives!
Anyone interested in attending the event (either in person or electronically) on Friday 29th April 2016 from 1200 till 1600 at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, Edinburgh, should register to attend via Eventbrite by clicking here:
The Youtube stream for the event will be displayed below when it goes live on the day, and you can click through to the YouTube page if you wish to participate: