Inclusive Victoria – the plan

Front cover of the Inclusive Victoria state plan. The Victorian State Disability Plan has a great introduction that includes language and terminology. It acknowledges there is no one right, or universal way to conceptualise disability. That’s because people perceive disability in culturally specific ways. Some people are proud to identify themselves as disabled, whereas others don’t want their disability to define them. Similarly, many autistic and neurodiverse people don’t see autism as a disability. They just see autism at a different way of interacting with the world. The State Disability Plan 2022-2026 is titled, Inclusive Victoria

From the introduction

Here is a nicely worded section from the introduction on language:

“Language is a powerful tool for changing community attitudes,
promoting inclusion and fostering disability pride. Throughout
history, people with disability have fought for changes to
language that reflect their human rights. We know language
is always changing, and we recognise that words are powerful
and have different meaning for different people. We recognise
that people with disability have different preferences regarding
how they describe their disability.”

This introduction explains how language is used throughout the document. It highlights the real importance language plays in community attitudes towards people with disability. A good example for other government documents and policies that are based on a marginalised group. 

The plan contains facts and figures about the prevalence of disability and other statistics. The international, national, state and local government obligations are laid out in a straightforward table format. The key elements of the plan are:

      1. Inclusive communities: Changing attitudes, transport, digital inclusion, sport and tourism.
      2. Health, housing and wellbeing: Health, mental health housing, NDIS, children and families.
      3. Fairness and Safety: Emergencies, advocacy, abuse and neglect, justice system, and gender identity.
      4. Opportunity and pride: Education, employment, voice and leadership, pride and recognition. 

Systemic reform

Most disability plans are action plans. This document includes systemic reform which should underpin actions and outcomes. The six systemic reforms are listed as:

      1. Co-design with people with disability
      2. Aboriginal self-determination
      3. Intersectional approaches
      4. Accessible communications and universal design
      5. Disability confident and inclusive workforces’
      6. Effective data and outcomes reporting

Inclusive Victoria is nicely presented with relatively plain language throughout. 

Easy Read Disability Strategy

Front cover of Easy Read Disability Strategy.The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has an Easy Read guide to the Disability Strategy 2021-2031. However, you need good reading and web navigation skills to get to it. The information is spaced out over 44 pages in the PDF version. 

The key objective of the strategy is about living a life you want to live. The goals are:

      1. Working and earning money
      2. Inclusive homes and communities – living where you want to live
      3. Rights for fair treatment and feeling safe
      4. Getting support as an individual and to be part of the community
      5. Being independent
      6. Learning and getting skills
      7. Access to health services and enjoying life
      8. More inclusive community attitudes
      9. Getting the outcomes we want by working together

The text only Easy Read Word document is on the Disability Gateway website.

The NDIS website has two other reports:

Home and Living consultation summary report

Support for Decision Making consultation summary report  

There are Easy Read versions of the reports and a videos with Auslan if you scroll down the each report page. 

There is also an Easy Read version of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability

 

Universal design and cognitive accessibility

Partial view of a bronze statue of a man with his head in his hand. It represents thinking. Universal design for cognitive accessibility.Universal design is most commonly associated with the built environment. This is where the physical barriers to inclusion are most visible. But the concept of universal design goes beyond this to include cognitive accessibility.

Emily Steel writes a concise article on how universal design informs cognitive accessibility standards. There are many types of cognitive disability and it would be difficult to have separate standards for each one. So the working group has adopted the Universal Design for Learning framework to promote better design for all people.

Brightly coloured strips lay on top of each other, each one with the day of the week. Universal design for cognitive accessibility.The working group has published two standards since forming in 2015. The first provides guidelines for the design of products to support daily time management. The second is about the design and development of systems, products, services and built environments. A third standard is under development. This one sets out the requirements for reporting the cognitive accessibility of products and systems. 

As an international standard, working group participants come from around the world and include people with diverse cognition. Online meetings replaced the face to face workshops during the COVID pandemic. 

The article, published in Design for All India Newsletter, provides more detail about how the group works. It’s Article 2 in the October 2021 edition. The online Newsletter is produced in Verdana Bold and is fully justified. It also includes a lot of Italicised text. 

You can directly download the article titled, Universal design informs cognitive accessibility standards

Interested in this work?

The working group is keen to integrate lived experiences into the guidelines and any revisions. If you are interested in this work you can contact the Technical Committee Secretariat

Dr Emily Steel is the Australian delegate on the International Standards Organization (ISO) cognitive accessibility working group. She also conducted a workshop at the Australian Universal Design Conference UD2021. Dr Steel is also a CUDA board member.

ABC guide to disability content

ABC journalist Nas Campanella. ABC guide to disability content.
ABC Journalist Nas Campanella

Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC, has a guide to disability content. The guide covers appropriate behaviour and language in reporting and portraying disability content. It’s applicable to all ABC platforms including social media. It’s a good guide for all journalism and anyone new to interacting with people with disability.

The title of the guide is, Reporting and Portraying Disability in ABC Content. Arranging and conducting interviews, asking questions, language and terminology are all covered. Many journalists are up to date with their language now, but images are still a problem. And there is still a tendency to place people with disability into a victim or a hero role. 

The information about arranging and conducting interviews includes checking on any assistance or support they might need. Saying someone is inspirational is not appropriate. So check facts and don’t run with assumptions.

Photographers and camera operators need similar information to avoid showing pitying pictures or focusing on assistive equipment. Wheelchairs are not the sum total of people with disability.

Images of disability in journalism

The guide gives the following advice: 

    • Avoid portraying individuals as objects of pity. For example, photograph a person using a wheelchair at their level, not looking down on them. Powerful, positive reinforcing images are generally preferred, depending on the editorial context.
    • Only show the person’s disability if it is critical to the story.
    • Avoid focusing on equipment unless that is the focus of the story. Avoid gratuitous cutaways of wheelchairs, canes, hearing aids and other devices.
    • Avoid having the talent’s carers or family in photos or video unless they are also part of the story. Show the talent as having autonomy over their own lives.
    • Avoid showing the person with disability as isolated from the community unless that is the focus of the story.
    • Avoid using stock images as the majority reinforce stereotypes of disability and are of poor quality.
    • Avoid using images of mobility aids, such as photos of wheelchairs, as a generic image for a story about disability.
    • Do consider using people with disabilities to illustrate stories that are not about disability, to show they are a regular part of the community.
    • Do aim for diversity in imagery of people with disabilities – people from ethnic minorities and gender diverse people also live with disability and are often even more marginalised.
    • Do show people with disabilities doing normal things, such as catching public transport or shopping, but avoid making it ‘inspiration porn’. It’s just life.
    • Do show people with disabilities in positions of power and authority.

Image from ABC News website

Ageism is bad for your health

An older woman's pair of hands. A common ageist and patronising image of an older person.
A common ageist image. Why not her face?

We have to stop ageism at the older end of the age spectrum. Why? Because it’s killing us. The World Health Organization, says older people who hold negative views about their own ageing will live 7.5 years less than people with positive attitudes. So where do these negative views come from? Everywhere it seems. Ageism is bad for your health because ageing is framed as a negative experience. 

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald reports on this phenomenon. Ageist comments, such as “silly old duck” or “they are useless with technology” are socially accepted. Calling someone an “old dear” is not a term of endearment. Language matters because it is an expression of how we think. Ageism is yet to be properly recognised as damaging, unlike racism and sexism.  But we must be careful with the term ageism.

Ageism is always referred to as an older age issue. However, it is not. Anyone of any age can be subject to ageism. In Europe, the only region with data on all age groups, younger people report more age discrimination than other age groups. Philip Taylor has more to say on this in his UD2021 presentation. 

Ageism affects everyone. Children are brought up in a culture of age stereotypes that guide their behaviours towards people of different ages. They also learn how to perceive themselves at various stages of life. 

The WHO says that ageism is everywhere – in our institutions and relationships to ourselves. For example:

    • Policies that support healthcare rationing by age,
    • Practices that limit younger people’s opportunities to contribute to decision-making in the workplace
    • Patronising behaviour used between older and younger people
    • Self-limiting behaviour based on our own ideas of what a certain age can or cannot do. 

Is ageism really a problem?

This section from the WHO website on ageism says it is:

Two women sit on a bird nest swing depicting a positive image of older people.
Two older women on a bird nest swing. A more positive image.

Ageism can change how we view ourselves, erode solidarity between generations, devalue or limit our ability to benefit from what younger and older populations can contribute. It can impact our health, longevity and well-being while also having far-reaching economic consequences. Ageism is associated with earlier death (by 7.5 years), poorer physical and mental health, and slower recovery from disability in older age.

Ageism also increases risky health behaviors, such as eating an unhealthy diet, drinking excessively or smoking, and reduces our quality of life. In the United States, one in every seven dollars spent on health care every year for the eight most expensive conditions was due to ageism (US$ 63 billion in total).

Other posts on ageing and ageism include Are you Ageist? Probably. and Market segmentation by age – does it work?  

 

Diversity and Inclusion: Start Here

A hand-drawn graphic with faces of bright colours with big eyes. They are grouped in a bunch.The Commons Social Change Library is about social change and driving social movements in Australia. From time to time they produce easy to follow resources for members and followers. The latest is a guide to diversity and inclusion. While the context is about driving social change, most of the information is applicable in any situation. 

The Diversity & Inclusion: Start Here guide introduces key concepts and a raft of links to other resources. The key point is that inclusion is a social change movement and we can all do our part by including marginalised people in our ranks. That’s whether it’s the workforce, our local sporting team or our social change campaigns.

Carly Findlay is a disability activist who reminds us that disability is part of diversity. Carly’s video explains her experience. Judy Heumann’s TED talk is also worth a look. 

Kimberlé Crenshaw’s TED talk, The urgency of intersectionality is about race and gender bias. 

Kaytee Ray-Riek discusses marginalisation across the spectrum and ways of building trust and encouraging inclusive practice.  

Organisers of social justice events sometimes forget the basics of inclusion. Make your social justice event accessible spells out how to do it. 

Before people can get to an event they usually need information. The Internet is usually the first stop. So it’s important to Improve your website accessibility

There are many more resources on this website – you don’t need to be a campaigner to benefit from them. 

Brightly coloured books on a bookshelf with titles that represent social change.The Commons Social Change Library is a not for profit organisation committed to educating for community action. They collect, curate and distribute the key lessons and resources of progressive movements around Australia and across the globe.

There are more posts on diversity and inclusion on this website. For example, Diversity and Inclusion or Belonging and Dignity? 

Accessibility with help from Standards

The ISO Guide 71 eleven goals of accessibility.
Slide showing the 11 accessibility goals.

Who wants to refer to the instruction manual if they can avoid it?  In the same way, standards documents get overlooked unless it’s mandatory to comply. But there is one standards document that is worth looking at. It can help us progress accessibility and universal design. On day two of UD2021 Conference, Emily Steel explained how the international accessibility standard works. 

Emily Steel pointing to the 11 Goals of the Guide on the presentation slide.
Emily Steel with the 11 Goals of the Guide.

The international standard has done all the thinking for us. The document guides standards committees as they write and update standards for their specific industry or profession. It is also useful for any committee developing guides or standards for accessibility and universal design. So, we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. 

The Guide’s use of the the term “accessibility” relates closely to universal design. “The extent to which products, systems, services, environments and facilities can be used by people from a population with the widest range of characteristics and capabilities to achieve a specified goal in a specified context of use”. 

The Guide has two main parts. The first describes user needs and 11 accessibility goals. These are similar to the 8 Goals of Universal Design. The second describes human characteristics and abilities, and design considerations. 

Guide 71 was adapted by the European standards authority and is titled, CEN-CENLEC Guide 6. It is basically the same information. You can see a previous post about this document. 

There is also an Accessibility Masterlist by Gregg Vanderheiden. It’s a collaborative resource for understanding access features in digital applications. Also worth a look.

All standards should ensure they meet the goals of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Guide 71 shows how to do this.

 

Disability inclusion: A closer look at philanthropy

A jumble of words representing philanthropy and generosity. Philanthropy is yet another barrier to overcome in the quest for inclusion. As a service, it too, should be universally designed. The underpinning principle of universal design is inclusion. It’s captured in the Sustainable Development Goals with the phrase, “leave no-one behind”. So let’s take a closer look at philanthropy and what that means.

Employment of people with disability and other marginalized groups in the philanthropy sector is one issue. Including people with disability within all grants is another. However, the disability sector is most often treated as a stand-alone area for receiving grants. This segregation is not helpful – disability should be included within all projects. The Disability Philanthropy website has three videos that explain more and a resource library.

Ryan Easterly explains, “Philanthropy needs to do a better job reflecting society and communities in general.” Funders should consider disability and the how it affects all aspects of life. There is hardly any issue that a foundation would fund that doesn’t impact or include disability.

Guidance for Foundations on Creating Disability Advisory Groups might be a good place to start. It has a list of Things to Know, and Things to Avoid.

 

Videos more effective than policy

A brightly coloured film strip with the word Video on it.Policy is often seen as the way to make change. But when it comes to being inclusive it hasn’t worked very well. If policies, codes and papers are not accessible to all stakeholders, how can we create inclusion? Janice Rieger makes this point in her paper which will be the subject of her workshop at the UD Conference in Melbourne in May. She says videos make change more effectively than policy.

The title of her short paper and workshop is, Reframing Universal Design: Creating Short Videos for Inclusion. Her research provides insights on how videos travel and reach different audiences. This results in a significant impact and enacted change and informed policy. Dr Rieger concludes that “video impacts more than policies, codes and papers ever can”. 

Editor’s comment: I think this will be one of the highlights of the program. Janice works internationally and we are very pleased to have her contribution to the program.

Here is an extract from her paper:

“Video is a visceral medium, offering the opportunity to reframe universal design practice and education. It captures movements and can be co-created with people with disabilities. Videos co-created for inclusion encourage detailed and rich embodied knowledge and experiences because information is prompted by association with one’s surroundings. Significantly, videos have the capacity to excavate personalized knowledge of those with different abilities and uncover systems of exclusion that are often hidden or naturalized, and shamedly rendered invisible through policies, codes and papers.”

In a short video titled, Wandering on the Braille Trail, Sarah Boulton explains how she navigates the environment using her white can and tactile ground markers.

 

The right to participate and co-design

A graphic of a group of people including a wheelchair user.How do you include people in decisions that will affect them when it’s not easy for them to participate? It’s a chicken and egg situation. So, asking people with disability to contribute takes more than a survey or a community meeting. It needs a much more thoughtful process. Janice Rieger has some thoughts on the right to participate and co-design polices and processes.

Janice Rieger discusses the issues in relation to the next National Disability Strategy. Her briefing paper is titled, Right to Participate: Co-designing Disability Policies in Australia. Focusing on process rather than the end product sets the framework to reach a shared understanding. Her three recommendations for co-designing in practice are:

      1. Focus on abilities not disabilities
      2. Employ expertise to help
      3. Value the importance of creative practice

Public sector co-designing is an emerging field of practice. It provides the opportunity for creativity and innovative ideas. Reframing participatory engagement through a social justice lens takes us towards a co-designing process. 

Editorial Introduction

“We are entering a new era in Australia as we envision a new disability strategy to replace the current national disability strategy (2010–2020). During this transition, we can reflect on and recognise the changing disability landscape in Australia and ensure that we create a just and inclusive Australian society. Recent consultations and reports have called for people with a disability to directly engage in designing the new disability strategy in Australia, but what does that entail, and how will the rights of people with disabilities be upheld throughout this process? This brief describes public sector co-designing practice—an emerging practice aiming to open up new trajectories for policy development through a co-design process and to provide best practice recommendations for the next disability strategy in Australia.”