Data Driven Futures

Government seeks technology disability champion

Written by Peter Walker

As part of today’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the government is announcing that it will recruit a new technology disability champion to help tackle the issues disabled people face as consumers.

The champion will use their status as a leader in the tech industry to raise awareness of the need for compatibility of mainstream products with assistive technology.

The assistive technology sector currently contributes £85 million to the UK economy, and has enriched many disabled people’s lives across the world. But many mainstream businesses are still missing out on disabled people’s custom by failing to design technology with their needs in mind.

Minister for disabled people health and work Sarah Newton said: “There are nearly 14 million disabled people living in the UK, and our world-leading tech industry must ensure that it is capitalising on the spending power of their households - the Purple Pound - worth £249 billion every year.

“I want tech companies to be a force good, ensuring inclusion is a fundamental component of the design process so that disabled people can benefit from the latest innovations,” she added.

Alongside the new technology champion, the government is also looking for a product design champion to work with manufacturers and designers to improve accessibility.

The 14 existing disability champions are:

o Advertising: Sam Phillips, chief marketing officer at Omnicom Media Group
o Airports: Michael Connolly, regional training and standards manager at OCS
o Arts and Culture: Andrew Miller, national council member for the Arts Council England and the Arts Council of Wales
o Banking: Trudie Hills, disability manager, Lloyds Bank
o Buses: Jane Cole, managing director at Blackpool Transport Services
o Gaming: Jo Twist, chief executive of UKIE
o Hotels: Robin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels
o Insurance: Johnny Timpson, financial protection technical and industry affairs manager, Scottish Widows
o Leisure: Huw Edwards, public affairs director at UKActive
o Media: Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer at Channel 4
o Music: Suzanne Bull, chief executive of Attitude is Everything
o Rail: Stephen Brookes, member of Rail Delivery Group’s governance group and non-executive director of Blackpool Transport
o Retail: Samantha Sen, head of policy and campaigns at Revo
o Tourism: Chris Veitch, co-founder of Access New Business