Consulting and engaging with disabled people

If you want to get it right about accessibility and inclusion, involving disabled people from the start is essential. Not only will this be a tremendous help when planning access issues, but looking at your organisation’s service from disabled peoples’ perspective can start a whole new creative process.

One of the best things you can do is to consult with an organisation or group that is led predominantly by disabled people.

You could also ask regular patrons who are disabled people whether they would be interested in being involved in consultation.

Consulting means not only sitting round the table talking about the issues, but finding ways of developing an on-going involvement, so that disabled people can make practical and positive contributions to the organisational development.

Action Points

Planning stages

  • Gather information on appropriate organisations and groups within your catchment area
  • Check your own contact list for disabled patrons who regularly attend your events
  • Establish most appropriate means of communication (email, telephone, letter or meeting)
  • Talk to key contacts at relevant organisations
  • Offer to cover any out-of-pocket expenses when consulting with voluntary groups or individuals

Arranging meetings

  • Check everyone’s access requirements, e.g. wheelchair access, parking spaces, format of papers / other materials, communication support, personal assistant (PA) support, dietary needs
  • Agree suitably accessible meeting place
  • Agree who will organise any necessary communication and or PA support
  • Clarify what is needed before making arrangements for communication / PA support
  • Produce papers in agreed formats
  • Send papers in advance electronically or as agreed

Checklist for points to cover during meeting

Events

  • What kind of events do people tend to enjoy?
  • What else might people be interested in doing?
  • Are there any particular venues that people use regularly?
  • What kind of introductory event might work well? e.g. workshop project, special deal on ticket prices, tour of backstage, meet the artists

Mutual support

  • How can disabled people be involved?
  • Is there a way for the two organisations / groups to work together? (see: Working in Partnership with Disabled Peoples Organisations)

Times

  • What times / days of the week would people be most likely to attend?

Transport

  • Do most people have access to their own transport?
  • Are people mainly reliant on public transport?
  • Does the group organise lifts / minibus?

Publicity

  • Are there any particular issues around access to publicity? e.g. print type and font, use of images, electronic or paper or audio tape

Communication

  • How would people be most likely to contact your organisation to make enquiries or book tickets? e.g. Think of the procedures people would have to follow to book a wheelchair accessible seat.
  • Is there a need to reserve an accessible parking space?

After the consultation

Keep in touch with your contacts; their help will be invaluable in getting new audiences along to your events.

Further reading

Involving Disabled People – UK Government has produced guidelines for Public Bodies with responsibility for Disability Equality Duties, but the principles can be applied to any organisation wanting to involve disabled people.

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