Captioning live theatre brings culture change

A graphic of the theatre masks of comedy and tragedy.If designs are not “born” accessible then it becomes a process of finding “work-arounds”. It can be seen in tacked-on ramps or clumsy platform lifts in buildings. Revolving doors mean another separate door for wheelchair and pram users. Special captioning apps or screenings in cinemas, and “special accommodations” at work and at school. It takes a change of culture to think inclusively and to understand its value. 

While practitioners in many fields agree with the concept of inclusion for all, the organisations they work for are slow to get on board. This is because it takes a culture change to think and act inclusively. This is a key point in an article about how introducing captioning helped change the organisation’s culture. 

Although the article is in the context of higher education, it provides some insights into how to drive culture change. Basically, it stems from the need to innovate. The article provides background to the project and a step by step explanation of the process to create live captioning for a live theatre performance.

Theatre performances require more than actors. Many people work behind the scenes from the scriptwriter to the curtain operator. So, many different people worked on the project. More importantly, they saw the results. At first they thought captioning would be a distraction, but in the end it became “traction”. Staff came around and saw the positive impact. The value of hands-on experience with the development and seeing the outcomes was the key to culture change.

The authors conclude that, “creating accessible environments doesn’t need to be expensive”. But it does take time, thoughtfulness and the involvement of users.

The title of the article is, From “Distraction” to “Traction”: Dancing around barriers to caption live theatre and promote culture change.

Abstract

Laws and policies worldwide increasingly demand that all users have
equivalent ability to interact with their environment, independent of disabilities. This includes educational and work environments as well as entertainment. Technologies have greatly facilitated the development of accessible resources and processes; however, a culture of accessible design is still not fully developed, and not all solutions are affordable, so there is still resistance. This paper outlines the steps of a team effort at a small private college to provide captioning for a live theatre production, Stepping Out, which resulted not only in rendering the performance accessible but also helped grow the culture of accessibility at the institution.

UD2020 Conference published papers

The Griffith University logo in black and white with the words published by ePress.COVID-19 prevented UD2020 conference from going ahead in May this year, but not before some of the speakers had finished writing their papers. As we had to postpone yet again to May 2021, it seemed too long to wait. So CUDA’s People and Transport webinar last week provided the perfect opportunity launch the papers. 

With the support of Griffith University we can now bring you eleven peer reviewed papers and extended abstracts. As you can see, they cover a wide range of topics. We look forward to hearing from the authors at the conference next year. 

Community-based studios for enhancing students’ awareness of universal design principles

Universal design in housing: Reporting on Australia’s obligations to the UNCRPD

From niche to mainstream: local government and the specialist disability housing sector

Thriving at School: How interoception is helping children and young people in learning everyday 

Universal Design and Communication Access 

Achieving visual contrast in built, transport and information environments for everyone, everywhere, everyday 

Mobility Scooters in the Wild: Users’ Resilience and Innovation 

Understanding the Differences between Universal Design and Inclusive Design implementation: The Case of an Indonesian Public Library  

Accessible Events: A multi-dimensional Approach to Temporary Universal Design

Everyone, everywhere, everyday: A case for expanding universal design to public toilets  

Reframing Universal Design: Creating Short Videos for Inclusion

Faith is wearing a white shirt. She has a mix of grey and dark hair and is smiling at the camera.The papers were launched at the webinar by Dr Faith Valencia-Forrester.

Universally Designed Conferences

People sitting either side of an aisle listening to a speaker. Often forgotten both here and in the USA is the idea that conferences should be universally designed. Most  conference organisers target a workforce audience and they assume people with disability don’t have jobs. This is chicken and egg. If you don’t see someone at a conference with a disability it’s easy to assume they aren’t around. If the conference is not inclusive, they won’t come. 

A new article on universal design and accessible conferences joins the dots between all the aspects of a conference. It needs a holistic approach because it is much more than ensuring there is an accessible toilet. The article applies the principles of universal design as a way of thinking about access and inclusion. It covers:

      • online booking
      • transport and parking
      • registration
      • seating
      • catering
      • wayfinding
      • accommodation
      • communication aids
      • access to the podium. 

The research questions for the literature review were:

    • What strategies can be used to encourage and facilitate access and inclusion for conference participants with a disability?

    • How can the principles of Universal Design be used to support the inclusion of participants with disabilities to conferences?

The title of the article is, Increasing participation: Using the principles of universal design to create accessible conferences. It is an open access article. 

Abstract:  The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) mandates the inclusion of individuals with disabilities to a broad range of facilities and public buildings. One overlooked area is access to conferences. Conferences are held in a range of buildings, including purpose-built venues, hotels, and stadia. Often, the focus is on access for people with mobility limitations, but access for people with other disabilities, such as vision or hearing loss, or mental ill-health, can be overlooked. This is a significant oversight since around 19% of the population experience a disability (Brault, 2012): it makes sound business sense, as well as a sense of social justice, to ensure more people can access conferences. This article uses a literature review methodology to highlight key considerations to make conferences more accessible to a broad range of people with disabilities. A theoretical framework of Universal Design is proposed to support the ideas. A holistic approach is taken to inclusion, including online booking, transport, and parking, since, without these being accessible, the event becomes inaccessible. Other aspects considered include registration, seating, restrooms, catering, and communication aids. Creating accessible conferences can help promote equity and inclusion and bring people with diverse perspectives together to enrich a conference.

Editor’s Note: Of course, when the topic of the conference involves disability, event organisers are often on a steep learning curve to make sure it is accessible and inclusive. However, they don’t apply these principles to their other conferences.

Conferences and calls for papers

picture of a large audience watching a presentation. 4th Australian Universal Design Conference. 

We are looking forward to hosting the postponed 4th conference in Melbourne 17-18 May 2021. We hope you can join us. More detail to follow soon.

New to the list: 

Artificial Intelligence + City Design. Free webinar 18 May 2021, one hour 11am – 12pm AEST. Being run by the Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand

Let’s be Clear: Easy English Webinars: A series of 2 hour interactive webinars on Easy English/Easy Read for four literacies. Computers, Health, Justice, and Money.  Dates in June 2021.

Institute of Australian Geographers & New Zealand Geographical Society Combined Conference, 6-9 July 2021, University of Sydney. Theme: Remembering, reimagining geography.  Call for abstracts close 5 April 2021 (submit from 4 March). There is more information on sessions and calls for abstracts.

International Conference on Transport and Health, virtual event, 14-20 June 2021. Key categories are: Transport and health behaviour; Innovative technologies; Transport and health impacts; and Urban and rural planning. And there is always room for “other”. This is an international multi-sector and cross-disciplinary event. Papers published in Journal of Transport & Health.

M-Enabling Summit 2021 Year-Long Conference Schedule & Digital Series.
The 2021 conference schedule includes two additional Virtual Leadership Briefings (April and June), followed by the M-Enabling Summit Conference and Showcase (October). The 2nd edition of the M-Enabling Virtual Leadership Briefing will run under the theme, The Acceleration of Innovation in Inclusive Virtual Workplaces for Persons with Disabilities, and the 3rd briefing will cover Universities at the Forefront of Digital Inclusion.

Other conferences and events:

7th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Ageing Well and e-Health (ICT4AWE 2021). Online streaming 24-26 April 2021.  See Important Dates.  A meeting point for those that study age and health-related quality of life and apply information and communication technologies for helping people stay healthier, more independent and active at work or in their community. Online streaming 24-26 April 2021.

Australian Placemaking Summit, Melbourne, 26-27 July 2021. The placemaking movement is gaining momentum in Australia. Includes rapid talks as well as a long list of speakers including from San Francisco, New Zealand, and Denmark.

Liveable Cities Conference, Perth, Western Australia. In lieu of the conference planned for 2020, there is a webinar series. Dates are 9 June, 16 June, and 23 June.  The concept of inclusion is under the Community Engagement and Culture theme. Speakers listed and a program outline.

From Access to Inclusion; an Arts and Culture Summit: Online over several weeks in March 2021. Dublin, Ireland.  An international gathering of access professionals and advocates exploring how to provide seamless, person-centred experiences in arts and culture. The Summit will be online as a series of virtual events over the course of a number of weeks in March 2021.

Not to be confused with the 4th Australian Universal Design Conference, there is another one in Finland 9-11 June 2021  This follows the four previous conferences in Scandinavia, UK and Ireland. This one will be Dipoli, Aalto University, Espoo.

International Ergonomics Association 21st Triennial Congress. 13-18 June 2021, Vancouver. Three main tracks of interest: Session 19 Different approaches for inclusive design; Session 20 Accessibility and usability for all; Session 68 Opportunities and challenges of digital technologies for inclusion. They have also added information about this being a hybrid event. They have a separate web page for the technical program. There is also a Practitioner Invitation Leaflet

The Disability Innovation Summit Postponed until August 2021 – date to be announced along with the Olympic Games. Priority will be given to submissions with: a passion to collaborate globally; products and ideas that are ready to go to market; or have the ability to be scaled; and tangible solutions that can impact lives around the world.

2020 International Urban Design Conference, Canberra, 25-28 November 2020. Postponed to a new date to be advised in 2021.

Universal Design Summit 7: Inclusion Fusion, 12-14 May 2021, St Louis University.  Four themes: Housing, Public Places and Spaces, Community Access, and Digital Spaces. Virtual presentations will be considered.

Destinations for All 2021 Summit  19-21 September 2021, Miami, Florida. This event has been postponed to 2022.

 

Is your professional association inclusive?

logo of American Sociological Society - blue on white backgroundThe American Sociological Association has developed a comprehensive policy to ensure the highest level of inclusion for all members. They have 15 recommendations that could be a model for others to follow.

While the focus is on conferences, seminars and other events they hold, the list also includes: how to file a disability complaint regarding the association, processes for membership renewal to the association, orientation to conference venue or meeting site, and web content accessibility rules. The article is in the Association’s publication, Footnotes, and is titledImplementing Professional Curb Cuts: Recommendations of the Status Committee on Persons with Disabilities.

ASA has on ongoing commitment to using universal design principles to make ASA events truly welcoming to all members. 

The Status Committee’s 15 recommendations are: 

    1. Continue to support the Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
    2. Continue to collect disability related data during membership renewal process.
    3. Fully institute a system for recording disability concerns and their resolution.
    4. Provide accessible electronic copies of the Annual Meeting program upon request as a standard accessibility feature.
    5. Establish as standard ASA policy and practice the distribution of a letter regarding disability services to members who check the box requesting information during their membership renewal.
    6. As part of standard meeting policy, the hotel should complete an accessibility checklist, preferably before contracting or at least a year before the meeting, to enable the identification of accessibility problems. Based on this checklist, ASA staff can identify potential problems and negotiate their resolution. Completed checklists should be recorded and saved, and made available to the committee to the extent appropriate, along with reports on changes made to properties in response to them.
    7. As part of standard meeting policy, the ASA should conduct an on-site inspection following receipt of the checklist.
    8. Provide an orientation/walk-through of the Annual Meeting site upon request as a standard accessibility service (to be conducted by members of the Committee or members of the Section on Disabilities).
    9. Provide a gender-neutral restroom as a standard accessibility service.
    10. Provide captioning for all plenary sessions as standard practice (not simply upon request).
    11. Insert accessibility features/concerns onto the Annual Meeting program maps.
    12. Materials related to the Annual Meeting site more broadly should offer relevant accessibility information (e.g., the restaurant guide, tour descriptions, and location transportation information).
    13. A brief mention of disability services and how to file a concern/complaint should be in the Annual Meeting program, on the website, and emailed to any member who has requested information on these services when they renewed their membership.
    14. As a matter of policy, include a link to the 2008 Footnotes articles on universal design and accessible presentations in acceptance notices for Annual Meeting presentations.
    15. Provide continued support needed to gain a “Double-A Conformance to Web Content Accessibility” sticker for the ASA web site, awarded by the Website Accessibility Initiative (WAI). 

4th Australian Universal Design Conference

Conference logo. Universal Design Conference 2020COVID-19   Update 10 August 2020: Due to the current COVID-19 situation in Melbourne we are postponing yet again to 17-18 May 2021 in Melbourne. A half day virtual event will be held 13 October, the second day of the previous date. More details to come. Our thanks to delegates and speakers for their patience. 

Here is a brief overview of the original content. There might be some changes depending on availability of speakers. We will keep you updated.

It’s promising to be a great conference! The conference website has the program with links to abstracts, and the list of speakers. Highlights include keynotes from James Thurston from G3ict, Philip Taylor from Federation University, and Paul Harpur live video from New York.

The inclusive tourism panel will have Martin Heng, Lonely Planet, Nicole Healy, Victorian Government, and Sarah Seddon, formerly from Destination Melbourne. The final panel session will discuss the role of government in promoting and implementing universal design: James Thurston, G3ict, Michael Walker, Victorian Government, and Fiona Morrison, NSW Government will give their views. With a lunchtime walking tour, Table Topic discussions, workshops and posters there’s something for everyone! 

Time to think about sponsoring – what about the coffee cart at $3500?  See the prospectus for more opportunities or email Tannia Garces

The conference will be held in the brand new Victoria Pavilion, Melbourne Showgrounds. It’s close to the city and the airport. 

Front entrance of Victoria Pavilion, the conference venue

Keep it Simple for Inclusion

A group of language dictionaries are laid out on a table.First there was closed captioning and then live captioning. Audio describing came along soon afterwards. Now we have the possibility of “simultaneous simplification”. Two researchers wanted to ensure people with various cognitive conditions could participate in a conference. Using audio transcribing facilities, interpreters simplified the language of the speakers in real time.  

After the conference they interviewed participants and found people with significant cognitive conditions were able to fully participate in a professional conference. Participants also retained the information a few weeks later. Of course, people who don’t speak the language of the speaker also benefit. The title of the short paper is, Simultaneous Simplification: Stretching the Boundaries of UDL.

Editor’s note: I’d like to see academics writing for the general population instead of writing in academic code for the benefit of other academics. Useful knowledge on many things would become more readily available to everyone. It’s time to have universally designed academic papers. 

“I don’t need a microphone.” But yes, you do

Picture of an ear with sound wavesThere are three types of hearing augmentation systems – but which one to use? The system preferred by most users is a “hearing loop”. It is connected to the sound system in a meeting room or auditorium. People wearing a hearing device with a telecoil, have the sound sent directly to the device. It screens out all the background noise and gives definition to the speech. However, a microphone must be used all the time. So no more “I’ve got a loud voice, I don’t need a microphone” because it won’t be transmitted.

Hearing Connections website gives an explanation of this system, FM and Infra-red systems. A system with an ambient microphone that picks up all the sound in the room amplifies all the sounds – so background noise is included with the speech. It can defeat the object. Also, the system should be turned on automatically – no-one should need to ask for it – that’s the point. Building designers, owners and managers have a legal obligation to incorporate the needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Editor’s comment: I’ve been given lots of different reasons why the hearing system isn’t working. I’ve been told that permission is needed from  security to turn it on, as well as being told it can’t be switched on because people outside the room might hear confidential information. Clearly, having the system installed and connected is one thing, and training people about its use and purpose is another. 

Making conferences more accessible

A student lab showing a man with a cochlear implant talking to a womanAn academic paper titled Making Academia More Accessible chooses to start the topic with accessible conferences and events. A case study is used to to demonstrate how it is possible to overcome “Ableism in Academia”. An interesting and easy read for anyone staging events of any size. Each of the features are listed including; quiet room, catering, live captioning, sign language, PowerPoint presentations, staging, microphone use, ticketing and toilets. The concluding reflections discuss the feedback they received and the ongoing impact of this work. The paper also discusses how academia has to consider the diversity of its workforce as well as its student body and others. The case study comes from University College London and University of Kent. There is a link to a one page summary of the strategies at the end of the article.

Editor’s comment: While there were extra costs involved, especially live captioning and signing, there was no extra budget assigned – it was achieved by volunteer effort and sponsorship. The argument for the economic value of inclusion is therefore lost and will continue to be lost until it is realised the extra cost is actually an investment. It is not ‘lost’ money.

Universal design and accessible meetings

picture of a large audience watching a presentation.Even conferences about inclusion, universal design and accessibility can fail to meet the first requirement of their own content – to make the conference and venue accessible and inclusive. So how will conference organisers learn about access and inclusion?  New research aims to promote awareness among meeting organisers and the conference supplier companies about the need to remove barriers to meetings and conventions. This includes the whole issue of destinations and visitor experience for the surrounding area. The report, Universal Accessibility in Meetings, was produced by BestCities Global Alliance, Gaining Edge, and RI International. 12 cities are featured in case studies, including Melbourne, and there is a 15 point checklist for meeting organisers. Final step will be to get presenters to universally design their PowerPoint presentations.  A quick review can be found on the Conference and Incentive Travel website.