Disability Equality Scotland hosts webinar on face covering exemptions

We hosted a webinar on Thursday 30 July to further raise awareness of their campaign on face covering exemptions.

A recent poll indicated that a significant number of disabled people were concerned about being judged for not wearing a face covering in public (89%) and specifically were afraid of being a victim of a hate crime as a result of not wearing a face covering (87%).

A panel of representative were brought together for a facilitated discussion on this topic. They included Robert Burns, Stakeholder Engagement Officer from FirstBus, Seumas Campbell, Customer Service Director, NorthLink Ferries, Constable Stephanie Rose from the Safer Communities Team at Police Scotland and James Davidson, Communications and Research Coordinator at Disability Equality Scotland.

The panel discussed the messaging that public transport operators are promoting and their stance on face covering exemptions. There was also a discussion about the ways in which hate crime could manifest itself in these circumstances and what you should do if this happens. Finally, the panel discussed the challenges for inclusive communication posed by the wearing of face coverings for those who rely on lip-reading or other non-verbal cues.

Disability Equality Scotland has been alarmed by the numbers of disabled people stating they have been challenged and intimidated by members of the public for not wearing a face covering and through this campaign, is urging members of the public to be more tolerant of others.

Morven Brooks, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Equality Scotland said

“I am deeply concerned that disabled people are being confronted for not wearing face coverings when they are doing so for legitimate reasons. Our campaign is calling on members of the public and businesses to be aware of the exemptions that are in place to highlight that not everyone can wear a face covering. Disabled people should never face intimidation, please be mindful and considerate of others.

Disability Equality Scotland are asking disabled people to share their stories if they feel they have been subjected to abuse or harassment for not wearing a face covering.

The webinar attracted an audience of 40 disabled people and other organisational representatives.