On 13 March, Adam Giles became the first ever indigenous leader of an Australian Government, when he took over as Chief Minister in the Northern Territory. Whilst this is a landmark achievement, I’m yet
to be convinced that it’s a watershed for social inclusion. Indigenous Australians remain amongst the most disadvantage groups in our society.
When we talk about Inclusive Communications we needs to remember that, though each new action is a positive, the majority of
those in our society who need to be included, remain forgotten.
In recent weeks Fairfax media’s The Age (Melbourne) and Sydney Morning Herald have undergone significant revolution, changing from broadsheet to the smaller tabloid/compact format. At the same time
totally revamped websites were introduced. Great, until one realises the opportunity missed- there are NO accessibility features! Not even a basic ability to increase text size. So in one commercial sweep, over a third of Australians (who wear reading glasses/contacts), have been ignored. Both the print and on-line versions are harder to read, whilst those relying on readers continue to be excluded.
This is happening I believe though sheer ignorance and disinterest. Whilst social obligations tell us that we should be inclusive, commercial organisations are also missing valuable opportunities to
reach customers and gain income. There are substantial commercial benefits in assisting people to access information in a way they can receive and understand!
ComAbility’s focus is on championing Inclusive Communications from creating greater awareness and understanding through to developing the professional communications skills to integrate and deliver Inclusive Communications programs.
Over the Australian summer, in a positive (and flattering) move, I was invited to judge a category in the Australian Government Communications Excellence Awards.
The title ‘Best Accessible Communications’ shows both a clear move in an Inclusive Communications direction as well as how far we have to go. My immediate reaction was that this category was about
communications for people with a disability. I was wrong! The category is mislabelled, there is no specific reference to accessible communications. It covered a broad definition of inclusion for any audience. Not one of the submissions considered ‘accessibility’. The focus in the main, was on multicultural aspects of Inclusive Communications.
Nevertheless it is wonderful to see local government organisations actively acknowledging Inclusive Communications. My congratulations to category winner The City of Greater Shepparton for what is a fantastic example of how to kick start Inclusive Communications at a grassroots level.
So how to start?
* Become aware, develop actions to ensure your peers, manager and
finance department are aware of the opportunities and benefits.
* Conduct a review/audit of your current communications from an inclusion perspective. Don’t forget to also review your Style Guide.
* Contact me at ComAbility for broad advice and or to assist you in