Performances for everyone

The Sydney Opera House is keen to be inclusive with their performances, and activities.  Accessibility Program Manager, Jenny Spinak, has spearheaded much of the progress in creating an inclusive program. The Accessibility page of their website has more than just information on how to access the building and parking. With the upcoming winter lights festival, Vivid Sydney, the Opera House is staging several accessible performances with audio description and Auslan interpreters. 

Previously the Sydney Opera House included an autism-friendly performance of the musical The King and I. You can see more in the video link below.

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Growing trend in Intergenerational Play Spaces

Aerial photo of Lillydale Lake PlayspaceWhat should play spaces look like for all ages? Inspired by a 10-year old resident from Lilydale, Melbourne, Yarra Ranges Council committed a $1.4million upgrade to the Lilydale Lake playground in 2014.

The recently completed project was developed in consultation with local primary school children. The Council found that the two main priorities for the children were:

  • Emphasis on nature over plastic materials; and
  • Play areas for all ages.

“They actually wanted a space where their parents will play with them,” Ms Robyn Mansfield, the Council’s manager of built and active spaces. “Where their older siblings will want to play with them, where their grandparents will want to play with them.”

More information on the Park can be found on the ABC website and the Yarra Ranges Council website.

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Art and You: A planning guide

cover page of the guide. Light brown background with a black and white charcoal drawing of a woman dancing. the title is written over her in black letteringThis guide was written for individuals interested in, or already making art. It is designed to help individuals plan how they want to be involved in the arts. It includes information about rights and gives tools to help people to make art in the way that they want, no matter what else is going on in their life. The guide is particularly suitable for people with mental health issues, and includes people with disability as well. It takes a self-advocacy approach and is written in a clear and concise way.

The Art and You guide is published by Arts Access Victoria and can be used in conjunction with other planning processes such as the NDIS and other community services. An encouraging quote “But no-one can tell you you’re not an artist. If people don’t understand what you are trying to tell them, then try again or find someone to help you explain.”

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Inclusive Meetings and Events

front cover of Accessible Events guide. purple with white writingMany event managers and venues have yet to get their head around their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act. While many public buildings may have access through the front door and accessible toilet, this does not make for an inclusive event. Did anyone think about a handrail on the steps to the podium, a lower lectern for a seated speaker, or what to do with the guide dog?

Venue owners and managers, caterers and equipment suppliers are yet to get up to speed with what is required. Meetings and Events Australia have a comprehensive handbook on accessible events which was written in consultation with the Human Rights Commission in 2012. However, it appears only to be available to members of the Association and is not visible on their web home page. Nevertheless, a Google search will also find the Accessible Events Guide.  The Guide also has a checklist at the end. 

front cover access events vic gov.Free to access guides include the Victorian Government guide and checklist. This one uses easy access English as well, so the guide itself is accessible, and covers the role of MC and speakers. Also the West Australian Government checklist is available.

Factors that many organisers might not think about are, a drinking bowl for an assistance dog, the way the event or meeting is promoted, and ensuring there is lighting on the face of speakers for lip readers.

Editor’s Note: While trying to think of everything to make the 2014 Universal Design Conference inclusive, we found the suppliers of the staging equipment did not have a handrail for the steps and the wheelchair ramp was too steep to climb without help. The one-size fits all lectern is also a problem. Rarely is there a lectern that a seated person or person of short stature can use. 

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A crazy ride for all

tree tops crazy riderTree Tops Crazy Rider based on the Central Coast of NSW offers fun for everyone as shown in the video below. It shows how people with disability can participate. The main website provides the general details including costs and opening times. Scroll down their page for information on accessibility.

The ride is accessible inasmuch as it can be in a natural environment. Due to being situated in a State forest the pathways are gravel and the toilets are portaloos (there is an wheelchair accessible one). Professional team members provide expert assistance with equipment and safety requirements. You can see more detail in the original post.

Also check out Camp Manyung in Victoria for their inclusive activities and a great video showing a tree top course designed for everyone.

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State of play for inclusive playgrounds

Distance shot of children on a carousel or spinnerLocal playgrounds are enjoyed by people of all ages. They are places where families and friends gather, and where the family dog can take a run. Many types of activities take place in playgrounds and related open space, yet people still think of a swing and a slide and perhaps a climbing frame. Playground design is a skill in its own right, particularly designing for inclusive play areas.

The Touched By Olivia Foundation surveyed over 1000 people of all ages and abilities across Australia and have a summary report of the results. Shade, toilets and car parking were were the important features the survey respondents looked for in a playground besides the play equipment.

Design features that people were looking for were those that allowed creative play, nature spaces, climbing equipment, sensory play – sand, musical and art – chalk, bike and scooter paths, as well as the traditional swinging equipment, slides, see-saws and roundabouts.

If you want to know the thinking that goes into an inclusive playground, you can view an explanatory Vimeo video of the award winning Livi’s Place at Five Dock in Sydney. Landscape Architect Ben Richards explains the design intent and the features that have helped to create the award winning inclusive environment. Ben shows a very good understanding of the many different requirements children might need. While the focus is on children with disability using the playground, it is suitable for all children.

Editor’s note: The survey report, State of Play 2016, is an online flipping book. Unfortunately the document designer has chosen a very light font, but at least you can enlarge the page to get better definition of the text.

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Inclusive event and meeting guides

front cover of Accessible Events guide. purple with white writingFully accessible venues can still be difficult to find. Getting in the door and having an accessible toilet is only the start. Venue owners and managers, caterers and equipment suppliers are yet to get up to speed with what is required. Indeed, while trying to think of everything to make the 2014 Universal Design Conference inclusive, we found the suppliers of the staging equipment did not have a handrail for the steps and the wheelchair ramp was too steep to climb without help. The one-size fits all lectern is also a problem. Rarely is there a lectern that a seated person or person of short stature can use.

Meetings and Events Australia have a comprehensive handbook on accessible events which was written in consultation with the Human Rights Commission in 2012. However, it appears only to be available to members of the Association and is not visible on their web home page. Nevertheless, a Google search will find the Accessible Events Guide.  The Guide also has a checklist at the end. 

front cover access events vic gov.Free to access guides include the Victorian Government guide and checklist. This one uses easy access English as well, so the guide itself is accessible, and covers the role of MC and speakers. Also the West Australian Government checklist is available.

Factors that many organisers might not think about are, a drinking bowl for an assistance dog, the way the event or meeting is promoted, and ensuring there is lighting on the face of speakers for lip readers.

Editor’s Note: In my experience, some event operators aren’t aware that they have to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.

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