UK Covid-19 Inquiry: Impact of online Covid messaging on disabled people

9 October 2023

Anna Morris KC

At the UK Covid-19 Inquiry today, Anna Morris KC explored the extent to which disabled people were impacted by messaging being placed online, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anna asked questions of expert witnesses Professor Nicholas Watson – Professor of Disability Research at the University of Glasgow, and Professor Tom Shakespeare – Professor of Disability Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-authored a report together for the Inquiry about Structural Inequalities and Disability.

The Inquiry heard that disabled people are disproportionately underrepresented in terms of access to the internet, and those with intellectual disabilities and a sight impairment, in particular, find online communications less accessible than communications via other means.

The expert witnesses explained that, from their research, they learned that people with intellectual disabilities found public health messages complicated and difficult to understand. Furthermore, despite more accessible “Easy read” resources being developed by “Third Sector” organisations to combat this gap in understanding, many were placed online thus requiring and third party to access the resources, print them, and deliver them to disabled people unable to access the internet.

Anna Morris KC and Pete Weatherby KC lead the team representing the Covid Bereaved Families for Justice UK group in Module 2 of the Inquiry, which includes GCN’s Kate StoneCiara BartlamMira HammadChristian Weaver and Lily Lewis. Also on the team are Garden Court Chambers tenants Allison Munroe KC (Modules 1 and 3) and Thalia Maragh, Jesse Nicholls from Matrix Chambers, Oliver Lewis from Doughty Street Chambers and Tom Jones from Deka Chambers. The team is instructed by Elkan Abrahamson, Nicola Brook, and Emma Beckett, Broudie Jackson Canter.

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