Alistair Berg

Disability Awareness Day goes virtual!

Covid-19 couldn’t stop this year’s Disability Awareness Day (DAD) from going ahead—because it was virtual, anyone could attend from anywhere in the world! Read our interview with the founder of DAD to find out more about the exciting event.

“It all started as a foggy dream and became a vibrant reality,” says Dave Thompson, the founder of Disability Awareness Day (DAD) which has been going for nearly 30 years.

DAD is the world’s largest not for profit voluntary-led disability exhibition, held annually in a huge tented village within the grounds of Walton Hall Gardens in Warrington. 

DAD is a pan-disability event which promotes a “can-do culture” focusing on what disabled people can do throughout life and work. The show has three main aims: 

  • To highlight what statutory, private or voluntary services are available to enable disabled people to stay independent,
  • To promote equipment and aids that could maintain or improve independence, not just what is offered by statutory service providers, we want everyone to see the best and/or latest designs,
  • To provide an opportunity to showcase what disabled people can do, in the field of sport, arts and entertainment.

This year due to Covid, the event, initially held on Sunday 25th October, was a virtual one. While it was disappointing that visitors couldn’t see all the exhibits up close and interact with each other face to face, it did mean anyone could attend from anywhere in the world. Plus, the virtual event is still available to view online now!

Going digital

DAD has been going since 1992 and since then gone from strength to strength. It’s run by a team of volunteers calling themselves “DAD’s Army”. The difficulties of this year gave the organisers an exciting opportunity to see what can be done with a virtual event. 

“DAD Virtual enabled you to have an oversight of the park, enter each marquee, and go to individual stalls and have a conversation via live chat, emails. [You can also] make a donation to charities, pick up leaflets through PDFs, watch videos about products and services. It has become a community, a worldwide community,” says founder Dave. 

“DAD Virtual enabled people who couldn’t travel to actually visit the marquees with over 100 charities. By visiting the arts marquee you could see some of the top UK artists. By visiting the sports zone you were given ideas on accessible sports and hobbies, dozens of businesses and statutory services working side by side with the common aim of providing information, advice and guidance. 

“The whole event is about that can-do culture and trying to promote what we can do versus what we can’t. For me DAD Virtual is really exciting. It’s going to bring the event into your home and for us it takes it to a different dimension,” adds Dave.

A lot of effort has been put into running DAD as a virtual event this year. And as a result, the organisers have decided to put on a virtual event every October to complement the live event in July. Take the DAD Virtual tour.

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