Accessible Workshops

If you want to run workshops that aim to be inclusive and accessible to all, or workshops specifically for disabled people, choose your workshop leaders carefully. Across most art forms there are practitioners with experience in making their workshops accessible to disabled people. The kind of experience each practitioner has will vary greatly, so it is best to get recommendations from arts organisations that have carried out similar work, or from disability organisations who may have been involved in arts projects previously.

Access is as much about communication, lighting, warmth, acoustics and parking spaces as it is about level floors and accessible WCs. A room with a glass wall and shiny floor could be a reflective nightmare for visually impaired people. Likewise, acoustics that bounce all over the place can create difficulties for hearing-aid users and people sensitive to sounds. It is worth taking time to make sure the sessions will be taking place in a suitable accessible place, and that everyone will be able to communicate easily.

Action points

Planning stages

  • Clarify aims of workshops
  • Identify targets groups (if any)
  • Seek recommendations from other arts organisations
  • Seek recommendations from disabled peoples organisations

When workshop leaders have been identified

  • Talk with them about what kind of general access the participants might need
  • Ask if workshop leader has specific access requirements
  • Check accessibility of venue with workshop leader
  • Note changes that need to be made prior to workshops e.g. lighting, seating, temporary signage
  • Produce appropriate, accessible publicity

When people are booking places on the workshop

  • Give details of basic access e.g. transport, parking, wheelchair access
  • Ask if participants have specific access requirements
  • If someone requests a specific access provision, it may be helpful to check with them first before making arrangements

When preparing the workshop space

  • Ensure parking spaces for disabled drivers are kept free
  • Clear approach of any trip hazards or obstructions
  • Check directional signs are in place (easy to produce your own on a PC)
  • Adjust lighting / heating / seating
  • Set out the room so that people can leave coats and bags easily
  • Lay out refreshments within easy reach OR have staff available to hand out refreshments

When people arrive

  • If you have organized specific access provision for anyone, check with them that everything is ok

While the project is on-going

  • Make sure you are available to talk to people at the start or finish of the sessions
  • A sense of easy communication will encourage people to tell you about any access ‘blips’ before they become insurmountable problems

When the project is finished

  • Have a feedback / evaluation system that is accessible to everyone
  • Include access as a topic in the feedback / evaluation

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