How Accessible is your Campaign Office ?
To run a fully accessible campaign it is necessary that physical accessibility is seamlessly considered and enforced. For example you should ensure that: Your campaign offices are fully accessible with level access, appropriate signage and other aspects of universal design such as accessible washrooms.
All employees and volunteers at your campaign offices should have training on how to assist and support people with disabilities. This will ensure that people coming into, or contact your office will be provided with the best care and assistance.
It is also crucially important that your staff are aware of all the alternative formats and supports available, so that they can assist people based on their individual needs.
Ask for advice from the experts on how to make your campaign office more accessible. There are many organizations which work with and on behalf of people with disabilities that may be able to provide you with further guidance. These organizations (such as March of Dimes) can give you tips on how to train your employees to be able to serve clients with disabilities, and can give you tips on how to make your campaign more accessible to all Canadians. Furthermore, these experts will be able to provide you with information about disability issues that may be relevant to your campaign. You can also hire experts to help make your resources more accessible. For example you can hire an accessible web designer to bring your website up to par with national web accessibility standards.
Accessible Communication Strategies
In order for all voters to be informed about your campaign it is important that information and communications are accessible to people of differing abilities. Whether you are sending out information about your campaign through the mail, advertising your campaign with the media or posting information about your campaign on your website, you need to consider formats. You should also always make it clear that alternative formats are available so that people understand the inclusiveness of your campaign.
- Braille: Not all people will be able to access your campaign information in written conventional ways. People who are blind or low vision may need different formats. You should make your printable information available in braille for people who cannot read traditional materials.
- Large Print: Consider printing your materials in a larger print so that people with low vision can access the information.
- Plain Language: Ensure your information is presented in clear and concise language so it is accessible to a large audience. Present the information in a way that could be understood clearly by people with cognitive disabilities, low literacy skills, learning disabilities and English as a second language.
Alternative Formats to Printed Information:
- Audio Format: Consider having all of your printed information available in an audio format for people who are unable to read print.
- Sign Language Video Format: An alternative format for deaf voters is to provide information in a sign language video format.
- Telecommunications: You should have a TTY line with your telephone line. This allows deaf or hard of hearing individuals to ask questions about your campaign. Staff should be trained in the use of TTY and relay service.
- Captioning and Descriptive Video Service: When creating television advertisements or presentations you should include closed or descriptive captioning so your messages can be inclusive to people who are deaf, blind or hard of hearing.
Meetings and Events:
If you are going to be hosing campaign meetings, debates and events you will want to consider including:
- Sign Language Interpreters
- Real Time Captioning
Either one of these services should be available at all meetings, debates and events for people with hearing difficulties
Consider hiring an accessible web designer who can ensure that features of the website are accessible to people with differing abilities..
- Easy to Read Visuals: People who are colour blind may have trouble reading text that is not sufficiently different from the design elements around them.
- Screen Readers: A screen reader is a web browser that reads websites out load for people with vision loss.
- Multiple Formats: For down loadable forms on your website it is best that you include a range of different formats such as word or PDF files.
- Navigationally Easy Design: Do not make it difficult to find information on your website. Use simple designs AND simple language.
- Consider Alternative Methods of Website Navigation: Some people with physical disabilities cannot access a website with the use of a mouse and instead use alternative modifications. These methods should be taken into account when designing your website.
Volunteers with Disabilities
It is important that you can provide supports for employees and volunteers that have disabilities. This means that your offices are physically accessible and also that you can provide alternative formats to these individuals. For example some employees/volunteers may needs to use assistive listening technology devices.
Allow for people with disabilities to provide input about the accessibility of your campaign and the ways that you can improve it. They are the experts, and therefore you should learn from them and value their advice.