“All this sudden change – and almost being bombarded with new challenges – needs a new space and pace so we can find our way together. I’m trying even harder to create and hold space to listen and work together with my friends and colleagues.”
John Kelly, Drake Music Associate, musician and activist
The Coronavirus pandemic is changing how lots of us do things on a day-to-day basis. And fast.
People are finding out what it is like to work from home and lots of arts and music organisations are figuring out how to do what they do from a distance, and how to use technology to connect in with audiences and participants.
As we settle into lockdown this feels ever more important, to have continued access to each other and to our shared culture and creativity.
With that in mind, we want to ask everyone to consider how accessible they can make these new digital ventures. We are also creating and sharing new resources to support this (see links at end).
Start good habits
With lots of us starting from scratch with this stuff we have a chance to do this right. To create good habits from the start. To build in access and inclusion as a fundamental, from the very beginning.
This means making our digital versions of our work as accessible as possible and also remembering that not everyone is connected to the internet. In the rush to take work online don’t exclude people with poor internet access. Don’t exclude Disabled people by making your digital work inaccessible.
Disabled people and people with access requirements are being impacted by this pandemic and inaccessibility will only make isolation worse.
Let’s make sure that we are doing everything we can to ensure great access for everyone, including Disabled, D/deaf, Visually Impaired and Neurodivergent people, by making good digital projects and work.
Learn from experience
Disabled people have a lot of experience of having to creatively smash through there being barriers to doing what you want to do. As we all start to think about working in different ways, now would be a great time to collaborate with Disabled artists and creatives, to bring that knowledge and awareness into your new digital programmes and to promote and support their work.
Now is also the time to be mindful of how we set expectations in this time of crisis.
Be aware of the pace you can work, create and participate at. Leave room for kindness and create space and support for people to deal with the uncertainty and anxiety we are all facing. Productivity isn’t everything.
Knowing you are included and have a choice about how and what you can participate in and contribute to is one way we can value each other and work together.
So let’s pool resources. We will be sharing what we know and what we are learning about digital accessibility over the coming days and weeks, and will signpost to other useful resources where we find them.
A final note from John Kelly before we summarise:
“I love working with others and value collaboration. That’s how the Kellycaster happened. As a human being I know that I thrive off and need that interaction to spark off ideas and share the fun.
The Coronavirus has forced all of us equally to stop and to think what’s important to us and how we can best keep ourselves and each other safe. Working from home is both a great, safe solution and a new challenge which creates potential barriers around access.
There are different ways to do everything so it’s important to share best practice, including remembering to ask the individual what their choice of solution would be. This will mean we can continue to do what’s important to us – to reach out, work and communicate together.”
TL:DR? A quick summary…
- Start right. Build accessibility into your new digital work (and retrofit the old where you can)
- Ask. If you don’t know, just ask. We are all learning. Ask your colleagues/ audiences/ participants what they need. Ask for support. There are disability arts organisations and disability rights organisations who can help.
- Pace yourselves. This is a difficult time and likely to get worse, don’t ask too much of yourself, audiences, participants, colleagues. Give people space to find their own way.
- Not everyone is online. Find ways to connect in with your communities who don’t/can’t access the internet.
- Share. Let’s pool resources. Let’s include everyone.
Digital Accessibility Resources
We are creating resources and sharing what we know about making digital work accessible. We will add to this list and update each guide as we learn more.
Drake Music resources
- Shape Arts’ Accessible Arts Marketing guide – includes some digital info
- 6 ways to make your social media posts accessible for people with a visual impairment – Life of a Blind Girl blog
- 5 tips for accessible Facebook posts – Ability.net
- How to use ‘alt text’ correctly for images – Ability.net
If you have a resource you think we should link to, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org