Work-related social events are an important part of developing a healthy work environment. Just like any other employee, employees with disability should be included in these events. Ask yourself:
- Can people with different accessibility needs enter via the same entrance? (ie: can someone with a cane or a wheelchair and an able-bodied person all enter the same way?)
- Is there accessible parking on the premises or nearby?
- Is there an accessible toilet that is easy to get to?
- Is the space quiet enough to carry a conversation?
- Are the tables set up (or can be changed) so that everyone can see each other?
- Is the space uncluttered?
Don’t assume that a person cannot or does not want to be involved simply because they have disability. Adjustments can almost always be made so that everyone can be included. Keep access requirements top of mind when organising events.
Consultations and engagements
Don’t overlook people with disability for your consultations and other stakeholder engagements.
There are a number of practical things you can do to ensure that your event or meeting is accessible for people with disabilities. Here are some helpful tips:
- Make sure that accessibility is a key factor when you are choosing a venue – rule out venues that are accessible only by stairs, and make sure toilets are also accessible.
Ask about any accessibility needs when you are inviting people to be a part of your consultation or event, and to discuss their requirements with them. It is important to ask all attendees this question.
- Keep in mind that if you need to book support or attendance care workers, Auslan Interpreters or captioners, often there are waiting lists of up to 3 weeks or more. Book as soon as you know they are required (or book immediately and cancel a week beforehand if they are not requested)
- Make allowances in your budget for costs relating to inclusion (such as Auslan Interpreters, Live Captioning, attendant carers).
- When sending out invitations for your event, include a line to state “if you have any access needs, please advise us on xxx by xxx”. Treat everyone as an individual. Don’t assume that any two people’s needs are the same.
- Give plenty of notice for your event to allow people time to book support needs.
- If you are using a hearing loop, ensure that it is fully charged before the event. A hearing loop is a device that a hard of hearing people wears around their neck to amplify the voices of people speaking in meetings, presentations and other situations involving speech.
- Try to keep to time during meetings: organised supports (such as Auslan interpreters, live captioning and attendant carers) often have to leave on time.
- Begin your event or meeting with a roll call so that people who are blind or have low vision know who is in the room.
- Take breaks: allow extra time if necessary to make sure everyone has ample time for their needs.
- If providing refreshments ensure that food is accessible to people in wheelchairs.
- If you have a hard of hearing or deaf person in the meeting or consultation, ensure that they can see you and don’t slouch or talk while covering your mouth in anyway. The hard of hearing or deaf person needs to lipread you.
- When consulting with people who are blind or have low vision, it is important to remember that they may need hand outs and other materials provided in formats other than print. These formats may include large print (standard is 18pt), Braille, audio or electronic. Electronic means a text based file format, such as .doc, .txt, or .rtf which is easily read by screen reading software. Avoid PDF files.