SIUA 05 Exhibition – accessibility of seminars

In the past, when an event was held, such that parts of it were about deaf people, only those parts were made accessible to deaf people. For example, when there was a deaf-related item in a news programs in TV, only that part was subtitled. Other parts, not directly related to deaf people, remained inaccessible.

This week, the SIUA 05 Exhibition is being held. This exhibition exhibits assistive equipment for people having all kinds of disabilities. One day (today) was designated as the Hearing Day.

During the SIUA 05 Exhibition, there are also some conferences and workshops.

Originally, only the conference scheduled for today was planned to be accessible to deaf people.

However, I was interested in another conference (held yesterday) – “Healthy Mind in Active Body”, because of a panel about “Accessible Community”.

A week ago, I inquired at the organizers of the exhibition whether this conference will be accessible to deaf people. The answer was – No. Only the conference to be held on Hearing Day will be accessible to people with hearing impairment. I CC’ed Bekol about this.

I do not know if and how much cord pulling and arguments were held behind my back, but few days later I was informed that a Sign Language interpreter will be available for the conference, which I wanted to attend. I wrote back, informing when I plan to come there (I did not plan to be there all day).

I arrived at the designated hour, and was delighted to find that they booked Sign Language interpreter for the entire day, in case other deaf people would be interested as well. The interpreter told me that he was informed ahead of time that someone is due to come at the hour which I said, but he enjoyed listening to the conference starting from the morning.

I came. I sat through the relevant part. I had an opportunity to speak as well (the interpreter translated my “deaf accent” into standard Hebrew). When it finished, I went away with the relaxed and content feeling that a person with disability has when he has been in a place, whose accessibility is adequate for him.

Hopefully, next year they’ll announce ahead of time that all conferences, workshops and seminars will be accessible on demand. I hope that in the standard brochure about the exhibition, they’ll also give instructions how to ask for accessibility.

Author: Omer Zak

I am deaf since birth. I played with big computers which eat punched cards and spew out printouts since age 12. Ever since they became available, I work and play with desktop size computers which eat keyboard keypresses and spew out display pixels. Among other things, I developed software which helped the deaf in Israel use the telephone network, by means of home computers equipped with modems. Several years later, I developed Hebrew localizations for some cellular phones, which helped the deaf in Israel utilize the cellular phone networks. I am interested in entrepreneurship, Science Fiction and making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.