Involving service users and carers in social work education
Shaping our Lives National User Network, 2003 (12) 'Guidelines for making events accessible'
These guidelines emphasise that "access is about providing people with equal opportunity to participate fully in whatever is being offered”, and this should be done in a positive and affirmative way. This reminds us that each disabled person will have their own access needs that may change over time and that they may each manage the same impairment/condition quite differently.
The guidelines cover in detail: before a meeting event, getting there, getting in, the place, and during the meeting /event. For example:
- Before a meeting/event: this sets out in detail the wide range of access needs that should be covered and the sort of questions that could be asked. These include the format of printed material, requirements for lip speakers, British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, hearing loops, palantypists, information in other languages, special chairs, parking places and dietary needs. It also asks about the needs of any accompanying personal assistant/support worker or assistance dog. It also specifies the need for the agenda in advance with a clear explanation of each item.
- During the meeting/event: this covers how to conduct the 'housekeeping’ in an
inclusive manner, the importance of sticking to the agenda, of timing and of
agreeing break times. It has a paragraph on agreeing the ground rules for the
meeting, suggesting that these could include:
- respect each other’s access needs;
- only one person to speak at a time;
- person speaking to say their name and to raise their hand or whatever means is accessible to them to let others know they are the speaker;
- do not interrupt the speaker;
- use plain and simple English;
- if you don’t understand what someone is saying, please ask them to repeat it or explain it. You are probably not the only person who doesn’t understand;
- be aware that covering your mouth when speaking might make it difficult for people to read your lips or hear what you say;
- try to avoid using jargon like SOL for 'Shaping Our Lives’;
- in any reports or discussions after the event do not use people’s names; talk about the issue not the person;
- turn off mobile phones;
- when reading out speak slowly.
[End of text from the Shaping Our Lives National User Network]
Note from SCIE: the Network ground rules above relate mainly to access issues for all participants. They will have to be repeatedly agreed at each meeting and event throughout the process of planning and delivering the courses. It is helpful if they also cover a commitment to:
- respecting each other’s contributions;
- agreeing how to handle differences of opinion;
- ensuring that the session is a safe and secure space for everyone present;
- maintaining confidentiality;
- avoiding discriminatory comments;
- not asking personal questions;
- sticking to the issues.