The Celebrants Network Inc - BLOG
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Being more accessible - Global Access Awareness Day
The 16th of May was Global Access Awareness Day – the focus of this day is for the technology experts to think about how to ensure that the digital world is inclusive and accessible to all... Today, Celebrant Melanie Lawson is taking us through what we as celebrants can do to be more inclusive.
As celebrants, we use digital technology in many ways; to promote our services via our websites and social media, by using on-line marriage registry services, online enquiry and booking services, email and digital photography.
While this technology can be a quick and easy way for many of us to connect with our clients and related service providers, there are people who experience barriers in using technology. People with vision impairment for example, may not be able to read screens. Many people do not have access to a computer for various reasons.
Some simple tips for making sure your technology is accessible:
- Embed explanatory text in website images that can be read by a screen reader.
- Use plain language, clear contrasting font and keep your webpages uncluttered
- Offer an alternative to communicating by email or website booking if possible
- Learn about the global accessibility standards for websites
Of course technology is only a minor part of the work of a celebrant. The majority of our time is spent being with people; meeting and interviewing clients, conducting ceremonies and engaging with other relevant services such as wedding planners and funeral directors. Most of us are aware of the need to ensure that ceremonies can be heard by all participants and that language differences are managed by using interpreters.
But what about other accessibility and inclusion issues?
You can start by asking if anyone attending the ceremony has any disability issues including physical, intellectual disabilities, dementia, vision or hearing impairment or autism. There are many ways to make a ceremony more accessible to individuals but the key will be to ask the person or those close to them what will work best for them.
As well as enquiring about individual needs, you can do some quick checks for some generic accessibility issues. For example, you can ensure that venues have level access, wide entrances and doorways, and seating. Flashing lights, lots of noise and movement can be distressing to people with intellectual disabilities, autism, or epilepsy. People with intellectual disabilities or dementia may benefit from clear signage and some explanation of what will happen during the ceremony.
Inclusion is an important concept for celebrants to consider. Inclusion occurs when people from diverse backgrounds (gender, culture, disability, age group) feel valued and respected. Providing good access is one aspect of inclusion. Meeting people’s needs in a professional, seamless and ‘no-fuss’ way allows people to feel valued and that they are not receiving special treatment or having to be accommodated.