In Part 1 of this article, we explored how organizations can prevent or remove information or communication disability barriers. For the most part, removing or preventing information or communication barriers involves accessible formats or Communication supports. In Part 2, we outline other things staff should know about preventing or removing information or communication barriers.
Preventing and Removing Information and Communication Barriers, Part 2
Some businesses may be in the process of removing barriers, such as by making their websites accessible. Similarly, businesses might need funding for services like Sign language interpretation or captioning. In the meantime, staff can help people access their information in other ways. For instance, staff can prevent barriers in organizations such as:
In any of these venues, staff can read print documents aloud, such as pamphlets, menus, or forms. Some clients may wish to record the reading aloud in order to refer to it again. Moreover, staff can fill in forms according to a customer or client’s instructions. Alternatively, staff can email the Word or HTML version of a document to a customer. Similarly, staff can create text transcripts of live events. They can then provide copies of the transcripts to customers. Staff should work with each customer to find out the best way of giving information.
Furthermore, staff should be aware that most customers will benefit from some formats or supports but not others. For instance, large print will benefit customers who are visually impaired, but customers who are blind cannot use it. Similarly, staff should be aware of basic differences between supports. For example, staff should know that closed captioning and audio description provide contrasting services. Closed captioning benefits customers who are deaf, while audio description benefits customers who are blind.
Therefore, staff should notify every customer about all formats or supports they have. This courtesy allows customers to choose the support that works best for them, instead of being offered the wrong support. Moreover, customers also avoid the barrier of needing to find and ask a staff member for support. In addition, customers without disabilities may also be interested in a business’s accessibility. If they have loved ones, neighbours, or colleagues with disabilities, they may spread awareness about businesses with accessible information.
Moreover, designers of new information and communications can prevent barriers from happening in the first place. For instance, they can create captions for all audio content, or provide text transcripts in advance, when possible. Likewise, they can design new PDF documents using text, rather than images. Furthermore, they can consult with people who have disabilities to find out if they have designed barriers without meaning to. For instance, they can hire people with disabilities to test the accessibility of all new web content. In this way, businesses can also learn how to avoid barriers in future. Finally, businesses should state in their accessibility policies that their staff are willing to resolve barriers. As a result, people will create fewer information or communication barriers and move more freely.