In Australia, there are a number of highly capable organisations delivering accessibility or multicultural communications services. Yet in almost every case expertise is focused on their single area of proficiency and fails to look at total communications situation. Conversely, most professional communicators are ill equipped, not empowered, knowledgeable, nor have the skills to deliver the overall view and package of Inclusive Communications.
With this in mind, I wonder in the final flurry of submissions on the Draft Victorian Disability Plan 2013-2016, if many commented on the almost total lack of reference and acknowledgement of the vital role communications plays. The draft almost totally ignores communications and fails to confirm any standards for accessibility.
This situation will not change until those working in the fields of disability, accessibility, diversity and multiculture start to look beyond their vested interests and single areas of competency. They need to join together to knock on the doors of professional communicators to co-opt their skills, to demand a holistic approach to Inclusive Communications.
Conversely communications practioner need to wake up to their frequent failure to even consider Inclusive Communications as their responsibility and not just a sometimes add on to core activity. Broadly, they need to reach out and become aware, seek the missed opportunities and benefits of taking on this challenge.
This is a long road, to put Inclusive Communications clearly on the agenda, empowered and resourced.
One of the simplest steps to start this journey is for organisational Style Guides to be challenged and reviewed in the context of Inclusive Communications. Do they set standards for accessibility, diversity and language? Such an exercise will build awareness within the organisational hierarchy. This will also assist by establishing foundations for future Inclusive Communications.
PS I’m happy to provide copies of ComAbility’s submission on the Draft Victorian Disability Plan 2013-2016.