WITH the London 2012 Paralympics being so successful - Channel 4 has never had such massive viewing figures - it was a timely opportunity to discuss disability issues with members of the Stroud Access Group.
To my mind, every individual should be treated fairly and this must, of course, include ensuring disabled people being able to live fulfilled lives.
We focussed on deafness and blindness.
As it happens, I am completely deaf in my left ear, so I am familiar with certain aspects of hearing loss although, in the right conditions, I can communicate perfectly well.
I know that the all encompassing requirement is to prevent people from feeling excluded or being surrounded by unnecessary barriers.
Some interesting problems and ideas were discussed. Low hanging branches along pavements are a problem for blind people, buses could benefit from audio announcements as bus stops are approached, sign language should be properly recognised and local authority signage should be improved.
These and other points are ones I will be pursuing either through local councils or, where necessary, in Westminster.
In Stroud we are very fortunate to have Five Valleys Sounds - Stroud's Talking Newspaper - and it is a great and, importantly, free service for blind people. I support this charity and even did a recording session from the local newspapers.
Providing this service makes a real difference to blind people as it directly enhances their quality of life.
As it happens, I next learnt about Acuity Design, a local firm specialising in using technology to create new products to improve the lives of everyone, 'whatever their age, cognitive or physical capacity'. This includes 'over lay' onto an iPad, allowing the combination of physical media and audio information. Three dimensional printing allows this to happen.
Combining a willingness to improve access for disabled people with emerging technologies will further improve our society.
If you would like to discuss the issues raised above, please contact me on 01453 751572 or visit my website - www.neilcarmichael.co.uk. Now, you can also follow me on twitter @neil_mp.