Making your training and team building accessible for everyone

We work in a very diverse environments where each one of us is unique and has different needs. When running training and team building activities it is important to ensure that every activity is as accessible as possible.

For some people, their needs are obvious and clearly visible, such as using a guide dog or a wheelchair. For the great majority of people, their needs are not visible and often referred to as a hidden disability. These can include people with vision loss wearing contact lenses, people with hearing loss, a person with epilepsy, diabetes or anxiety, to name a few.

Sometimes we share what is unique about us and sometimes we don’t. There is no requirement for anyone to share their uniqueness unless they choose to.

When delivering training or team building activities it is important to ensure that every activity is as accessible as possible. Your registration process may ask each person if they require any accommodations to be made, but remember, some people have had poor experiences in the past and may not wish to share such information with you.

So, what can you do if someone says they need an additional accommodation to ensure they are able to participate, but you are not sure what to do?

First of all, do not assume. If you do not know the person very well, you should not assume to know what they need. The best course of action is to ask them what they need and how you can ensure the activities are accessible for them. Even if you know the person, it is best practice to ask them what they need.

What can you do if you do not know what the attendees need? Even though the list of accommodations can be endless, there are some basic considerations you can make.

Make sure there is wheelchair access to your venue, the indoor facilities, the parking, and there is ample space to move around the room. If you are holding an event outdoors, ensure there is accessible parking, that walkways are present (it is very hard to push a wheelchair on grass) and, if you are moving about a city, that the routes you choose are accessible. Remember, not everyone who walks is able to go up and down stairs or curbs, walk distances or stand in line for a period of time.

For people who may have difficulty with hearing, ensure a microphone is used, check if a venue has an audio loop facility and if videos are used make sure the subtitles are turned on. For outdoor events, take external noises into consideration, such as schools during lunchtime, trains or general traffic. People who require Auslan interpreters will let you know and be able to give you information on how to book one.

For people who may have difficulty with their vision, ensure all written material is in a larger font, electronic presentations use large font and minimal text and contrasting colours, there is ample space to move around a room or location with no obstacles, the location is easy to find for a driving service and space is available for an assistance animal if needed. If a person does use an assistance animal, they may let you know and be able to advise you of what is required.

Other accommodations you will need to consider include: avoiding flashing or strobe lights for people who have epilepsy, ensuring dietary needs are met if the event is catered, providing seating and shelter if outdoors, make the outline of how the day will run available, and ensuring all instructions are clearly articulated.

And above all, be prepared with any contingency plans on the day if an attendee advises you that they are having difficulty or need some last-minute accommodations, be prepared to ask them what they need and how they can be accommodated. Try making training accessible for everyone.

Christine Kuca-Thompson
Diversity, Team building & Leadership 

If you are interested in learning more about Christine and her workshops on Essemy, please visit this link.