At a recent diversity and inclusion event in Melbourne, the speaker mentioned their frustration that everyone seems to be using this ‘intersectionality’ word. Another panel member said they thought it was important because after all, a person can be a woman and African-American, which is where the word came from. As so many of us know, the word has transitioned to the disability area, where a person can have a disability (including psycho-social or mental illness) and identify as being LGBTIQ+.
Words are powerful, and in this sense, ‘intersectionality’ spells out the necessity to remember the richness of every human life. A person can have a disability, identify as being Aboriginal and be gay. The key message is to never assume.
If you are organising a Pride march or a youth rights event, for example, why not take the extra steps to make the gathering as accessible as possible? You won’t get everything right, but you can find ways to be inclusive and therefore involve participants with all abilities who want to be a part of your event.
An important point to remember is approximately 4 in 5 disabilities are non-visible which means you will not necessarily be able to see the person has a disability. Therefore, it’s even more important to prepare an accessible event where all attendees can participate without necessarily having to request adjustments.
Prioritising accessibility is about recognising the fundamental human rights of persons with disability and putting your social justice values into practice.
- Use high contrast and consider using a tool to allow users to switch from dark-on-light to light-on-dark
- Don’t use flashing animations
- Use skip navigation
- Become familiar with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
- Use alt text
- For a more in-depth guide see Improve your website accessiblity
Marketing and communications
- Signage, presentations and written material have sufficient contrast levels.
- Make written material available in plain English/Easy English alternatives.
- Include a welcoming statement for persons of all abilities to attend.
- Use visual representation of persons of all abilities in your campaign.
- Rate the accessibility of your event, and provide information e.g. maps about accessible public transport to your event.
- Ensure your event venue is accessible. Is there level access? Is there braille signage? Are there sufficient Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSIs)?
- Wayfinding materials should be simple and easy to read (clear directions, appropriate signage).
- The emcee or event organiser should provide a verbal explanation of the layout of the venue at the start of the event. This should include the layout of the room and directions to toilets, meal areas, breakout rooms and fire exits.
If your event involves sending out invitations
- Ask attendees to advise of any accessibility requirements when registering so that these adjustments are managed as a part of the event. Outline the accessibility features of the venue you have chosen.
- Ensure digital invitations are accessible. If you’re fairly new to accessibility, check out the Australian Network on Disability beginner’s guide to accessible content.
- Ensure guests and participants can register for the event in a range of ways, including by phone, email or online. If using an online form or third-party booking service, make sure it is accessible.
- Provide information about accessing the venue, including accessible parking, general parking, public transport, and venue drop-off points.
- For ticketed events, Companion cards and similar services should be honoured.
- Book Auslan interpreters as needed, and reserve seats in front to enable a clear view for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
- Provide sufficient space between tables for wheelchair access.
- Ensure table height is accessible to wheelchair users and people of short stature. This includes refreshment tables and buffets.
- For standing events, provide some chairs for people who may experience fatigue.
- Venue should be clear of obstacles, and trip hazards such as cables should be removed or taped down.
- Provide guests with access to a separate, quiet area to allow them to take a break, if needed.
Audio visuals (when asking a person with disability to present)
- Avoid strobe lighting or flashing lights.
- Provide a wheelchair ramp to the stage (if required) and ensure it complies with Australian Standards.
- Provide adjustable height microphones, or lapel microphones if required.
- Ensure a hearing loop is available.
- Provide space for Auslan interpreters (if required). Ensure interpreters are positioned in a well-lit area and clearly visible to the audience.
- Provide live captioning (available through Ai-Media). This involves having an adequate internet connection available for attendees to connect to through their personal devices, as well as a phone line to connect the captioners.
- Venue should be evenly lit throughout.
- Australian Network on Disability Event checklist
- Rooted in Rights – How to make your Social Justice Events Accessible to the Disability Community: A Checklist