Give a Huge UKAAF Welcome to Our New Chair, Roger Firman

UKAAF is delighted to announce it has a new incoming Chair  – Roger Firman.  Roger takes over the reins from long-term UKAAF Chair and much admired man, Richard West, who chaired his last AGM in June. Roger became Vice Chair back in 2019. His ‘day job’ is  running a business, going strong since 2004, all about providing a high quality personalised transcription service for customers who require music, music-related and other materials in braille called Golden Chord.

Roger has been working in this highly specialised area for many years and understands the practical needs of visually impaired musicians first-hand, and his deep understanding of this side of working with accessible documentation will give a unique perspective to his work leading UKAAF into the post-COVID world. We recently sat down with Roger to find out more of his plans for the next three years (the standard term of a UKAAF Chair).

So Roger, congratulations on your appointment!

Thank you, Carina. Obviously, I’m delighted to have been elected, but overriding everything else right now is the coronavirus Pandemic, which is affecting all of our lives but I’m particularly conscious of the impact on UKAAF members. Physical distancing has unique problems for blind and partially sighted people, and for many of us it will cause great social isolation, which deeply concerns me.

Of course. What’s your history with UKAAF?

I’ve been involved for a few years now in various ways, mainly through the Music Subject Area group of which I’m vice chair at the moment. There, we look at all aspects of music and we have a group within it that specifically looks at Braille music, which I lead.

What are the challenges that you see facing UKAAF?

In a previous blog Richard outlined some priorities for 2020, and I’m not keen to throw any of those out; a priority he set that I very much agree with is aligning with The Publishers Association, for instance. We also need to work out what we are going to do about our postponed Conference which was originally scheduled for this month, sadly. Though we did manage to have the UKAAF AGM online.  One of UKAAF’s priorities for 2020 has been the ICEB (International Council on English Braille) 7th General Assembly postponed from May. As host-country, we will learn in July whether it will take place face-to-face or online in October.

Beyond those immediate unresolved priorities, I’d like the board and myself to have a look at the future direction of the organisation. I’m quite open minded about that, but I think it’s a discussion we need to have. I’m very keen that we look at membership, for example; I think we could increase enrollment. We restructured our membership quite recently, in 2018, but I think we need to have a little look at that again and see whether we feel it is right to see how we can grow our numbers.

Another topic we’re looking at is webinars and generating more accessible information production. Whilst primarily we are a standards body, the way that people are consuming information obviously is changing, because of what technology offers, and is very much different to what it was 40, 30, even 20 years ago. Maybe as an organisation, we need to have a look and see if we are best set up for dealing with new channels. Finally, I would like to also have a look at how we might be able to increase partnerships with either other groups representing people with disabilities, where there is something in it that we can give and also something that they can add to what we do. Sounds like quite a lot for the next three years, but I think it’s all achievable.

That’s great, Roger. Final question from me; if there was one thing you want to make sure you achieve by the end of your term, what might that be?

The one thing I would be most pleased to see is UKAAF making an even bigger impact than it does already for our members.

Thanks so much Roger and I’m sure I speak for all our members when I wish you the best of luck for your time in post.

Carina Birt

 UKAAF Board Public Relations Officer


(UKAAF June 1 Roger ends)

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