A welcoming and accessible environment
Communities should try to ensure that their amenities and resources are welcoming and accessible to everyone.
A key topic of discussion within the Seen but Seldom heard project was the need for all environments to be disabled friendly and accessible.
Everyone wants to feel part of their local community. How accessible is your local community to young disabled people? How does it feel to be left out? If you are at school/college etc., what can be done to make sure all students feel welcomed and included?
Think about your local swimming pool or cinema – how disabled friendly are these environments, and are they easy to access if you have a sensory impairment*, or mobility issue?
You may wish to consider:
- Are appropriate signs used to note access?
- Do toilets appear to be large enough for wheelchairs and do they have grab bars on the walls?
- Do doorways appear to be large enough for wheelchairs?
- Do lifts have Braille next to each button and enunciators or “beepers” for each floor?
- Are there accessible parking spaces near entrances/exits?
Watch the following example videos that show some of the difficulties faced when navigating the world using a wheelchair.
*Sensory impairment or sensory loss – what does it mean?
‘Sensory impairment’ or ‘sensory loss’ are umbrella terms used to describe loss of the distance senses i.e. sight and hearing.
You will find that the term ‘sensory impairment’ is commonly used by professionals rather than ‘sensory impaired’ individuals themselves who may be more likely to use the terms below.
There are three very distinct groups within sensory impairment:
- visually impaired people
- hearing impaired people
- deafblind people
Activity 1 – A welcoming environment
Find an information booklet produced by a particular facility within your local community e.g. school, sports centre, Arts centre. Think about how you could redesign this in terms of reflecting the needs of disabled young people.
Q1: What messages come across in posters, information leaflets/literature about disability and inclusion in your local community?
Q2: How might you re-design them?
Working together with disabled young people in inclusive ways helps to prevent individuals and groups from being marginalized and ensure that everyone has their voice heard.
An individual can experience disability in many different ways – for example, not every disabled person uses a wheelchair and some disabilities are invisible. Being disabled means we face particular challenges in varied aspects of our everyday life.
Watch the following film of Hugo, a Seen But Seldom Heard Poet, using poetry to talk about his disability.
Go to the Seen But Seldom Heard poetry book to read and/or listen to the poems written by young disabled people about their dreams and aspirations.
Activity 2 – End of school prom
Here, Lauren talks about her experiences of her school Prom and accessibility at local event venues.
You are planning your end of school prom. What would you need to do to ensure that it is a fully inclusive event? Consider:
- Promotional material
- Any other things that might be important.
Universities need to consider what disabled students require in order to access buildings for lectures and seminars and social activities.
Watch the video below of Dr James Palfreman-Kay at Bournemouth University, who talks about the current policies in place.
Activity 3 – Choices
Everyone likes to feel that they have choices about how and where they live their lives.
Use ‘Post-Its’ or notepaper to develop a ‘wish list’ of important things for disabled young people related to their needs. This might include aspirations and hopes for education, employment, relationships, housing and their social life.
Go to the Seen But Seldom Heard poetry book to read and/or listen to the poems written by other young people about their experiences of disability.
Activity 4 – Independence
Many young people have aspirations to be independent.
Q1: What does being independent mean to you?
Think about what your own hopes and dreams are for the next 5-10 years.
Q2: What sort of things does this include?
Q3: What barriers might a disabled young person face if they were hoping to achieve similar things?
Using the Seen but Seen but Seldom Heard project as inspiration, consider writing your own poem or song lyrics which depict these aspirations and/or challenges: Seen But Seldom Heard Poetry Book