Oops! A disability charity has refused to apologise for holding a fundraising comedy night in an inaccessible London venue. Action on Hearing Loss (formerly known as RNID) was raising money as part of its Deaf Awareness Week with an evening of stand-up at The Comedy Store in London.
Performers included Angela Barnes, Samantha Baines, Ed Gamble, Eshaan Akbar, Russell Howard, and John Bishop, three of whom have hearing loss themselves. But the venue chosen by the charity is not accessible to many disabled people, with The Comedy Store warning on its website that it only has a “chair lift” which “cannot bear the weight of a person in a wheelchair”. This means that any wheelchair-user “must be able to leave their wheelchair, descend via the chairlift, then retake their wheelchair once at the bottom of the stairs”, so “large electric wheelchairs are unable to gain access” to the auditorium. Alan Benson, a disabled campaigner and activist from London, said: “Funding is a challenge for everyone so events like this are very important, but it’s vital that we get them right.
“In a society that routinely discriminates against disabled people, we must make sure that we support each other and run fully inclusive events. “I know that those with hearing impairments routinely face barriers to participation so I would have hoped for better.” Benson, who uses an electric wheelchair himself, added: “London has many great accessible venues so there is no excuse not to use them. “By using venues like The Comedy Store, we validate their inadequate provision. “To justify the event by saying it was accessible to some disabled people is simply not good enough.”