Fit for all communications

Tue 21 November 2017

Communication plays a fundamental role in all aspects of business and has a powerful role to play in influencing public perception. It positions brands, helps with managing relationships, supports effective team building, enables innovation and contributes to organisational growth. Ensuring communications and marketing activity is accessible to as many people as possible is essential in creating an inclusive workplace.

Life Without Barriers is a leading social purpose organisation that supports children, young people and families, people with disability, older people and people with mental illness, to live their best life and participate fully in the community. Inclusive communications and marketing messages are part of their core business practice.

Fiona Davies, National Manager Diversity and Inclusion, Margaret McKeown, National Manager External Relations and Damien Long, National Manager Marketing and Communications, share some of their initiatives and discuss their experience of participating in the 2016 Access and Inclusion Index.

“We have an AIEP — or Accessibility, Inclusion and Employment Plan. It was developed with advice and guidance from the Australian Network on Disability (AND) as well as consultation with our Disability Services Advisory Council and broad collaboration with our staff, board members, customers and engagement with other stakeholders outside the organisation. Our AIEP is led by our Chief Executive Officer. The plan informs our activity across the business,” said Fiona. “Having buy in from our staff and senior leadership is something that's really important,” she added.

“The AIEP was one of the first documents I read when I started working here,” said Margaret. “It helped set the tone for what I thought about disability and what it actually meant. It made me think about wording and how we communicate our messages. It's about gaining community acceptance by sharing and telling the stories of people with disability.”

For good practice in the area of communications and marketing, it is also vital to develop accessible digital materials that can be read by people using screen reading and magnification software. This includes ensuring adherence to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) AA standard, and reviewing electronic documents for best practice accessibility and easy English.

“It's a constant challenge to ensure that all our communications and marketing materials are accessible and inclusive. My team is experienced in this and we're starting to train others to do the same,” said Damien. “The checklists that we have as actions within the AIEP help to ensure we use the right fonts, language and add the correct structure to the material.”

Taking part in the Access and Inclusion Index has helped Life without Barriers to take stock of their progress in creating an inclusive organisation.

“We see it as a guide to how we're performing. It shows where we're at and identifies gaps. In some areas we have performed well, but there's plenty of room for improvement,” said Fiona.

“It's measurable. There are real figures and real data to work from. I think it will be a powerful tool to help us move forward. We don’t see diversity and inclusion as a one-off event. It's part of our business; it's what we do and we're including it across all of our areas,” she added. 

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