How to make your meetings more accessible

Below are some general tips to help make sure any comrades who want to can participate in your meetings.

Specific support

Some comrades will have specific support to access meetings at the bookfair, such as sign language interpreters, note-takers, speech-to-text typists, or guides. If we know in advance someone will need one of these in your meeting, the bookfair access group will organise that support and contact you to send you more info about how you can help make the meeting run smoothly for everyone. We will also need you to give us more info about your meeting ahead of time, to help with the support.  If you are interested in finding out more about specific support at the bookfair, please ask us and we can send you separate info.

General access

There are not that many comrades who will need the above access-support. There are however loads of people who will experience barriers to accessing meetings but it won’t be so obvious and they won’t necessarily flag-up what they need. EG, many bookfair-goers have some hearing loss so can’t follow speakers in meetings very easily, or have low levels of vision and can’t see slides easily. Many people come to the bookfair who have English as a second language, or for other reasons don’t follow written slides in meetings easily, EG because they are dyslexic or were failed by the school system. Some comrades can’t process some types of information and quite a lot have limited mobility, including older comrades.
So it is always a good idea to make your meetings as accessible as possible from the start, so that more people can attend your meeting if they want to and nobody is accidently excluded or marginalised. The key to this is to plan well to make them clear, to the benefit of everyone.

Before the meeting- organisation

  • Physical access- the whole bookfair is accessible but please be aware that some seats in the meeting rooms will be reserved for comrades who particularly need them- these will be at the front and near the door. Please make sure this system is respected.
  • All the meeting rooms have induction loops to amplify sound for hard of hearing people. Comrades who want to use those should know how these work themselves, but if anyone needs the loop in your meeting and is unsure, you can ring the access stall and someone will come and help: 07497 466389.

In the meeting- general considerations

  • Facilitating/chairing- good facilitating is really important to ensure everyone can participate, not only the most domineering. Please also try and make sure people don’t talk over each other. This is especially important if there is a sign language interpreter, note-taker or speech to text typist in your meeting
  • Make sure the lighting is on and main speakers are visible and not in the shadow – this is important for lip-readers
  • Try to face people when you are talking to them- this is also important for lip-readers
  • Try and keep background noise to a minimum to help people hear what is being said- EG, if there are a load of comrades chatting outside the door, shut the door.
  • Speak clearly –not too fast, and use a microphone if there is one in the room.  If you are in a large meeting room and there is a question or comment from the floor, repeat it into the microphone.

Use of slides/power point/videos

  • If using power point, it is best to use a large font size and an easy-to-read font (EG with sans-serif ), to make  it easier for people to see your slides, even from a distance
  • If you are using slides with written text on them, it is a good idea to read them out loud in case anyone in your meeting is low vision and can’t see the projection, or has English as a second language, or for any other reason can’t read the slides. At the least leave plenty of time for everyone to read them.
  • Try and use plain English. It takes more thought to communicate complex ideas clearly and simply but shorter sentences are much more accessible than ones with lots of clauses. If you use acronyms, explain what they stand for and don’t assume everyone knows.
  • As well as slides with text, try and include different types of info, EG,  verbal/pictures/diagrams etc, as people process different types of information differently.
  • Try and describe any important visual information going on in case there are any low vision or blind comrades in your meeting EG ‘this is a slide of a photograph of strikers at the coca-cola factory’, etc
  • If at all possible, it is great if people can include audio versions of any text and text versions of any audio (most importantly speech). If you are using a video in your meeting that is subtitled, point this out on your meeting blurb, so that deaf comrades know your meeting will be accessible for them too

If you have any questions or comments, or have any other things to add to the above that we haven’t thought of, please let the access group know.

We will be on the access stall near the entrance in the foyer at the bookfair, or email us:

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