What’s a Disability Action Plan and why does a radio station need one?

Many Australian organisations and business, as diverse as AFL Australia, Government departments, and Lifeline are developing or implementing Disability Action Plans (DAP)  also known as an Accessibility Action Plan (AAP).

Those organisations realise they need to change what they do to be more fair, and to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act (1992).  Your radio station might have older volunteers with mobility issues, or trouble reading documents;  you might have volunteers that have learning difficulties or low literacy; or you might have volunteers who have a disability you can’t see, like mental health issues or Autism.

A DAP outlines the concrete steps your radio station can take to implement changes to be more accessible, even if you don’t have a specific policy for access and inclusion.  As community radio stations abide by the Community Radio Code Of Practice, we have a shared commitment to increasing diversity and access, but sometimes we need to take concrete actions to reduce the barrier to certain groups to participation.  A DAP can help you do this.

Foe example, this one from the Wollongong City Council Disability Inclusion Action Plan

Flow diagram of the Council DAP contents repeated in text
Taken from the Local Government Association NSW https://www.lgnsw.org.au/files/imce-uploads/127/template-standalone-diap.pdf

2016-2020 shows specific activities and documents that action the WCCs commitment to inclusion, including  their vision statement, supporting documents including proposals to implement the plan, how they will decide to do this and be accountable, and projects including building an ‘All-abilities playground’, running an accessible festival, and constructing a ‘shared pathway’.

For a radio station, this might include concrete actions that specific individuals can do (which may not even cost you an money to implement) like:

  • Conducting a survey or all your volunteers for their accessibility needs;
  • Reviewing all your forms and documents for screen reader accessibility;
  • Reviewing your website’s accessibility using the Wave tool https://wave.webaim.org/ 
  • Adding some braille labels to your equipment;
  • Adding tactile ground surface indicators to your passageways that direct blind or vision impaired people;
  • If you have stairs or steps, planning and resourcing adding ramps;
  • are meetings held in a place with a lift, or no stairs?;
  • Is there a quiet place for stressed individuals to go, or support practices for new volunteers who are unsure about how to do things or take longer to learn?;
  • Is there a process for making suggestions and complaints? Does everyone know about it?
  • Assigning deadlines and people to complete those tasks.

You don’t have to try to figure it out on your own.  The Human Rights Commission provides advice, specifically for small businesses and organisations.

Developing a DAP starts with asking some questions about your organisation:

Human Rights Commission Checklist

  • How does your business collect information about actual and potential markets?
  • What can you do to collect more useful information?
  • What physical barriers need changing to encourage customers who have a disability?
  • How can you change communication practices to ensure that all customers may have access to your information and provide information to you?
  • Are any employees allowing their own discriminatory practices to impact on customer service? How might this problem be addressed to ensure that your staff provide a quality service?
  • Will the review of your business practices make use of the expertise of people with disabilities in identifying barriers to access and in developing the Action Plan?
  • Have you determined ways to evaluate your progress towards Action Plan goals?
    Are your goals and targets achievable?
  • Have you set time frames to ensure your goals and targets have some meaning?
    Has the business allocated sufficient resources, priority and authority to ensure the success of the Action Plan?
  • How are you going to inform employees about the Action Plan and educate them about their role in implementing it?
  • Have you devised strategies for publicising your commitment to the Action Plan so that your business reaps all the public relations benefits?
  • Does your business have a complaints procedure that really enables matters to be fixed without the customer making a complaint to the Commission?
  • Has your business incorporated long term planning and evaluation strategies into the Action Plan?

Read more about the HRC advice here – https://www.humanrights.gov.au/disability-discrimination-act-action-plans-guide-business

See also: 

Australian Human Rights Commission – Disability Rights – action plans

https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/disability-rights/action-plans-and-action-plan-guides

Australian Network on Disability – What is an accessibility action plan?

https://www.and.org.au/pages/what-is-an-accessibility-action-plan.html

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