#ShiftThePower

Getting Accessibility Right

It is crucial for us to keep trying to get accessibility right so that we can truly engage communities in telling the stories that need to be heard. 

When you are starting from scratch, making communication materials more accessible can feel like a sizeable undertaking. Yet, it is so incredibly important. In partnership with Camden Disability Action and Inclusion London, over the last few months, we have been designing community reporting training for disabled people. Thinking about accessibility in this context means considering individuals’ needs and remembering that using a default one-size-fits-all approach can be highly excluding.

One of our recent training cohorts involved a mix of participants, including physically disabled people who write their own blogs, and people with learning disabilities who use a support worker to assist with communication. 

Advised and assisted by our partners, we prepared and presented training that reflected the full range of additional needs. This meant converting our citizen journalism training into an Easy Read format, which is more simple to understand and supported by explanatory symbols and images. It also meant providing all training materials in visual and audio formats.

When working with disabled communities we want to ensure that we make training in different versions which can be offered to match the needs of the group and individuals. Crucially for organisations such as ourselves, it is important to remember these needs when resourcing projects and planning them at the beginning, so that we allow enough time and budget.

Developing an accessible website

We have also been looking to improve accessibility in digital platform design as we develop a number of new websites with networks of disabled community reporters such as Camden Disability Action, Leonard Cheshire Disability UK’s Changemakers programme, and Inclusion London.

Our previous web templates and structures need revisiting but making a truly accessible website design has been a learning process. It means a user-friendly approach that considers people with dyslexia and cognitive difficulties, people with visual impairments, people using screen readers and other assistive technologies, and people who use keyboards to navigate.Yellow icon of a light bulb

Whilst there is plenty of guidance that exists both nationally and internationally concerning web content accessibility, this can be quite technical and detailed and we continue to spend time unpicking them all to ensure we can take forward and implement this best practice.

Focusing on improving accessibility in our training and digital platforms has been a challenging but valuable issue for us to tackle. It is crucial for us to keep trying to get this right so we can truly engage communities in telling the stories that need to be heard. 

For On Our Radar, we hope that this period of learning will become an area of additional value that we can pass on to communities and partners.

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This learning has led to the co-development of Talk Kit with Inclusion London – a digital suite of tools for Deaf and Disabled People led Organisations (DDPOs) who want to get their communities talking about the issues that matter.