Disability Awareness in Action
Resource Kit No. 3
Published by © Disability Awareness in Action, All rights reserved
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Kit" as a PDF file (120 KB)
Stage Six Publicising the Issues
13. Organising an Event
Places to hold activities - such as public meetings, press conferences,
strikes and demonstrations - can vary from concert halls, theatres and hotels
to sports centres, student unions and community centres. Sometimes, your
venue will be the main road in your village or outside a government building.
At other times, it will be inside a public or private building. Whatever
the place, you need to make careful preparations in advance.
Wherever the venue is, it must be accessible. For formal events, try to
find several alternatives and go to see them first. Can you get someone
to provide a room for free by sponsorship in return for publicity? What
about the local community centre? Make sure you book in time. Think about
anything extra you may need - lighting or sound facilities, car parking,
Making an Event Popular
A meeting, conference or seminar chaired by a well-known local person, such
as the mayor or a local dignitary, makes the event more attractive both
to the general public and to the media.
Make sure that this person understands the social model of disability and
knows the objectives of your organisation and the campaign: give them a
written briefing so that their comments are broadly consistent with your
aims and so that they can speak positively and in an informed manner about
the needs and skills of disabled people.
A guest from another part of the country, or another country, may be informative,
particularly if they are well-known and admired, you support their views
and they have demonstrated their commitment to disability issues. Between
20 and 30 minutes is a good length for a speech.
Leave time for informal discussion. If you can, provide refreshments after
the event and encourage people to get to know one another.
Event Action Ideas
For a short-term campaign, or for a public meeting to discuss a long-term
campaign, draw up a list of people and organisations to be invited - your
organisation's members, representatives of other disability groups and voluntary
organisations, professionals, civic and religious leaders, local politicians
and officials, representatives of the business community, religious and
charitable organisations. Tell them what it's all about before the meeting
- they are more likely to attend.
If it is a public event, try to create a wider interest before the event,
through articles in local newspapers and features or interviews on local
radio and television stations.
Put an advertisement in the local paper, announcing the event and giving
a brief indication of its aims - the launch of a campaign, a public debate,
etc. You may be able to do this for free. If not, you could try writing
to the Letters Page.
Make sure that personal invitations are sent to local journalists. Keep
a note of any who show an interest, whether or not they attend or report
the event, for future use.
Plan the event in detail, keeping in mind its aims but leaving some room
On the day, the major organiser should be as free as possible to deal with
To make sure that all your publications and presentations are available
to everyone, including people with visual, hearing or intellectual impairments,
you should provide them in alternate media. These include braille, tape
and large print, sign language, subtitles and pictures. Although this can
be expensive, there are ways of doing it quite cheaply - by borrowing equipment,
using volunteers or getting sponsorship just for this.
Should be available in:
- Large print - At least 16 point. preferably 18 point.
- On tape - When recording the tape, speak clearly. Try to make what
you are saying sound interesting. Include titles and headings, describe
pictures and make sure any numbers are quite clear, especially statistics.
- In braille - Your national organisation of or for blind people will
have information on who can do this.
- Write things in simple language, without unnecessary long words It's
much easier to understand information that is broken up into short paragraphs
with bold headings and not too tightly packed on the page. Try to illustrate
ideas - a simple sketch will do. Diagrams and pictures can make material
more interesting and more accessible.
- If there is anybody who still cannot read or understand the information,
try to arrange for it to be read or explained to them.
- Don't present written material at meetings or events without reading
- When making visual presentations, don't forget to describe what you
When speaking to someone who has a hearing impairment:
- Face them all the time you are speaking.
- Don't cover your mouth with your hands.
- Speak clearly and not too slowly or too quickly.
- An expressive and mobile facial expression gives more clues than a
- Eye contact is very important. Don't be put off if you are watched
very carefully. The way you speak can take some getting used to.
- There is no need to shout.
- If anyone uses sign language, make sure an interpreter is available.
If the interpreter is expected to sign for a long time, or for a number
of people, there should be more than one interpreter.
- Make sure there is enough light, so that speakers and interpreters
can be clearly seen.
- TV programmes should be subtitled. This may be brought about by a
campaign in the form of letters to the heads of the television companies.
When planning events or meetings, think about physical accessibility as
well. Try to make sure that the venue is accessible to everyone and that
any individual needs are catered for.
What would you do if you were invited to speak at an inaccessible venue?
Would you refuse to speak? Would you speak but make sure to point out publicly
that the venue is inaccessible, if not to you then certainly to colleagues?
Some disabled people need personal assistants (PAs) to help them with their
daily needs. Make sure that there are volunteers available to do this job
if disabled people aren't bringing their own helpers. They shouldn't be
nurses or first aid people, who are often patronising in their view of disabled
people - seeing us as "ill" and in need of "care". Disabled
people don't need PAs because they are ill. They need someone to help them
with certain daily tasks, as everybody does at times.
The PA doesn't need any special qualifications. They do need to be able
to carry out exactly what the disabled person wants done - no more and no
Don't charge an entrance fee for PAs - it's like charging someone for bringing
their hearing aid!
15. Public Speaking
Sooner or later you may have to make a speech to a large group of people.
To some, public speaking comes naturally. But for most of us, it can be
terrifying at first. You can overcome these fears through good preparation,
rehearsal and experience.
Public speaking is one of the most effective ways to present ideas forcefully,
because it allows direct, person-to-person communication. It is the oldest
way of passing on information. For thousands of years, before newspapers,
magazines, radio and television, it was the only way to inform, motivate
and persuade the community.
Research. Read any material you can on the subject of your speech. Talk
to your colleagues about the issue. Take note of their ideas as well as
your own. Visit the public library. Write to other people with experience
of what you will be talking about. Gather any relevant statistics. Make
notes of any "human interest" stories or first-person anecdotes
that relate to your theme.
Prepare. Speeches can be read or spoken spontaneously, referring to notes.
You can recite the speech from memory. If you are not an experienced public
speaker, it is best to prepare a full written text. Or you can put the main
points on to small cards, and refer to them as needed.
Remember when writing a speech that it is meant to be heard. not read. Write
short sentences that are easily understood and are closer to your everyday
speech than what might be found in a book. Use lots of active verbs - "do
something, make a change, build links, discuss issues".
Basic Form of a Speech
Write the main body of the speech first, then the introduction, which should
be the strongest feature of the speech. This will get the full attention
of your listeners. The introduction should be short and striking and should
prepare listeners for what is to come.
- State the subject.
- Ask the central question raised by the subject.
- Prove how the subject affects people.
- State possible solutions.
- Show how the audience can help.
- Sum up what improvements will occur.
Choose the one outstanding aspect of your subject. You might want to begin
with a famous quotation, an anecdote, a startling statement or statistic,
a joke, a story that tells of a particularly appalling incidence of discrimination
against a disabled person. Like your introduction, your conclusion should
be strong. You can sum up and make an appeal for support and action.
Read your speech aloud slowly and time yourself. Make sure it is no longer
than any time-limit. If you can, practise giving your speech in front of
a mirror, Although you will probably read from a prepared text, the trick
is to appear as much as possible as though you are looking at and speaking
directly to the audience. Glance at your text or gather your thoughts, memorise
a few phrases or sentences, then look up and start to speak. Practise doing
this until you can do it easily. A speech that sounds as if it is being
read and has no spontaneity is a boring speech.
Change sentences or words that cause problems when you read the speech through.
Choose the simplest way of expressing any idea.
Read your speech to friends or groups members. Ask them for constructive
criticism. Practise giving your speech and imagine you are talking to someone
thirty feet away. Try to pitch your voice so that this person can hear you,
without shouting. Practise taking deep breaths before beginning each new
Find out the size of the place you will be speaking in and the size of the
audience. If you think you won't be able to speak loudly enough, try to
arrange for a microphone to be available. Make sure you have some water
handy if you are likely to need it. Talking makes your mouth dry.
Before starting, take several deep breaths to steady you. If possible, look
at your audience and pick out two or three receptive-looking people at different
places. Look and talk directly to each of them for around ten seconds. After
a few sentences, ask the audience if they can hear you.
Try not to fold your arms as this gesture can be seen as defensive. Try
to avoid coughs, ers and ums. If you need a few seconds to collect your
thoughts, remember they won't seem nearly as long to your listeners as they
do to you. Take the time, relax, then carry on.
It may encourage you to know that for most people fear and nervousness are
greatest before they start to speak; once launched into the subject, calm
returns. So, take a deep breath, begin and keep going. Your audience will
be willing to show you more consideration than you expect.
Remember, you are not here to draw out pity for your members but to put
the emphasis on human rights, on empowerment, on what can be done to ensure
full participation and equal opportunities for people with impairments.
Always try to show that:
- Disabled people are an integral part of society.
- The problem of disability is a problem for the whole of society.
- The solutions involve the whole society.
- The results will benefit the whole society.
There are many ways to publicise an event or an issue - posters, leaflets,
media advertising, information packs, just talking to people.
Do you know anyone who is good at drawing? Many businesses and organisations
use a picture in all their communications that announces them to the world.
Choose a simple design, with a clear meaning, that is easily reproducible
for your campaign logo. You can use the logo on publications, posters, banners
The National Access Awareness Week logo is five interconnected stars, representing
the five issues of the Week: education, employment, housing, recreation
and transport. The stars are linked to reflect the fact that these issues
A slogan should be easy to remember and should state the aims of your campaign
- "Equal Rights for Disabled People Now."
- "Rights Not Charity."
- "Education For All."
- "Access is a Right."
National Access Awareness Week in Canada produces an information pack each
year. In 1992, the pack was called Access is a Right and began with a slogan:
"It's time for community action!" It went on to sum up the aims
of the campaign: "All Canadians have the right to full access to everything
their community has to offer."
Information packs should be available well in advance of a time-specific
event. They should give the dates, venues for events and activities and
a contact address and phone number.
Make sure the information pack describes the aims of the campaign clearly
and the principles behind it. Stress the importance of the reader's participation.
("You can make a difference!").
Leaflets to publicise your organisation or campaign can be delivered directly
to people's houses or left in public places, like shops, libraries, dentists'
and doctors' surgeries. Further on you will find some examples of campaign
leaflets. Look at the language they use and the layout.
Posters should be very simple. Their impact is best if immediate and memorable.
Use them to publicise events or to raise awareness. Include your logo and
slogan, if you have them. Give a contact address and phone number if possible.
You could also use fact sheets, T-shirts, bookmarks and badges to publicise
disability issues, your organisation or a particular campaign. NAAW has
produced a series of bookmarks with slogans such as "Good lighting
is essential for lip-reading and sign language" and "When talking
to disabled people, speak directly to them, not through their friends."
Whether you are writing the text for a poster, leaflet or information pack,
keep it simple. Start with a clear statement: the purpose of the campaign
or an example of discrimination.
- "Today, disabled people are demonstrating for equal rights."
- "Most buses, trains and taxis are inaccessible."
- "Seventy percent of disabled people are unemployed."
Keep the layout simple and clear. Always include the campaign logo and slogan
and your organisation's address. Try to develop a "house style"
for all your publications. This will give everything a stable, solid look
for funders and will mean that your material is easily identifiable.
Printing costs can be kept down by using one colour of paper and one colour
of ink. Remember that producing under 500 copies of any printed material
means it is most economical to photocopy it. Over 500 and proper printing
is advisable. If printing and photocopying are out of reach financially,
you could still put up five or six home-made posters in public places around
your village or town to advertise an event or an issue.
- When distributing leaflets, remember to put them in places where disabled
people will see them.
- Write to the Letters Page of your local paper. Make announcements
on local radio.
- A week before any event, send a press release to local papers and
radio and TV stations inviting reporters to come along. Ring up news desks
two or three days before the date.
- Invite a local community leader or celebrity to attend the event as
guest of honour. It will add credibility to the campaign and generate interest,
particularly with the media.
Two Good Reasons to do something special in 1992
National Access Awareness Week June 1 - 7
The Week calls on us to initiate projects to focus attention on the barriers
faced by persons with disabilities over five directed theme areas:
For information and ideas on what you, your business, school, club, union
or municipality can do towards a National Access Awareness Week project,
- Cynthia Thoroski
- Provincial Coordinator
- National Access Awareness Week
- 18 Walden Crescent
- Tel. +1 204 224 3538 Fax. 224 03 10
UN Decade of Disabled Persons 1983-1992
The Decade calls on us to focus our attention on three general areas:
A major principle of the Decade is consultation with disabled persons and
their organisations. For information or ideas on what could be done as a
Decade project, contact:
- prevention of disability
- improved services
- equality of opportunity
- Emily Smith
- Decade Committee Coordinator
- 200-294 Portage Ave.
- Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Tel. +1 204 943 6099
British Council of Organisations of Disabled People (BCODP)
European Disabled People Unite in Demanding Equal Rights
May 5 - Europe Day
Today, all over Europe, disabled people are taking action to demand equal
rights and to lobby for legislation to uphold those rights.
We, members of the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People (BCODP),
demand that anti-discrimination legislation is introduced in this country.
We Don't Want Promises - We Demand Action
Here are just a few facts:
Join Us in Our Campaign for Rights Not Charity!
- There are 6.2 million disabled people in the UK (OPCS Survey)
- 69% of adult disabled people are unemployed. We are also three times
more likely to be out of work for long periods than non-disabled people.
- 78% of disabled people are on benefits; 54% of them are under retirement
- There are between 4 and 5 million mobility impaired people and only
80,000 accessible homes.
- Over half of all disabled children still to go special schools despite
the 1981 Education Act which was supposed to promote integration.
- Most buses, taxis and trains are inaccessible. Indeed, 20% of disabled
people have no access to any form of public transport.
- Many pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports stadiums, town halls,
courts of law and churches are physically inaccessible to disabled people.
For further information contact:
- BCODP, De Bradelei House, Chapel Street, Belper, Derbys. DES 1AR.
- Disabled People in Britain and Discrimination by Colin Barnes. ISBN
1 85065 127 2.
National Integration Week
What to Do
Let Us Know Now! Plan It Later
- Tell us that you want to take part.
- There is no need to work out all the details at this stage.
- Make a commitment to an event, publication, meeting, etc.
- CSIE will put your event in the National Integration Week Brochure
- Organisation and local promotion of the event will be up to you.
- Fill in the enclosed Registration Form and send to CSIE.
- This must reach us soon (latest deadline 2 I February 1992).
- Please contact CSIE if you have any queries or if you need more copies
of this leaflet.
- Tell Other People About National Integration Week!
Disabled People Demand
Rights Not Charters
"We all know that there is still too much unjustified discrimination
against disabled people. We know that that is wrong...It is also remarkably
stupid, because of the wealth of ability and talent that disabled people
have to offer." (See Scott, Hansard, Column 1251, 31 January 1992)
And yet all the government gives us is a charter
There is a civil rights bill going through the House of Lords
which would set up a Disablement Commission, outlaw discrimination in employment
and insist on access to goods, public facilities and services for disabled
And yet all the government gives us is a charter
There is an Early Day Motion calling for anti-discrimination
legislation, which has already been signed by over 100 MPs from all parties.
And yet all the government gives us is a charter
Nicholas Scott, Minister for Disabled People, says: "Disabled
people do not just want sympathy. They do not want to be patronised or to
be looked-after people or people who are told what is good for them."
And yet all the government gives us is a charter
- and it doesn't even mention disabled people!
Unenforceable Charters and "Benevolent Neutrality"* Have Continually
Failed to Address the Discrimination Faced Daily by Disabled People in Britain.
*HM Government's view of anti-discrimination legislation
Here are some of the facts:
Organisations of and for disabled people have formed Voluntary Organisations
or Anti-Discrimination Legislation, to campaign for enforceable rights.
- There are 6.5 million disabled people in Britain.
- Many disabled people don't have the right to choose what time they
get up in the morning or go to bed at night.
- Parents of disabled children do not have the right to send their children
to a local school.
- Only 0.3 per cent of higher education students are disabled people.
- Disabled people are 3 times more likely to be out of work and 3 times
more likely to be out of work for long periods than non-disabled people.
- Most public transport is not accessible to disabled people.
- Many pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and sports stadia are physically
inaccessible to disabled people.
- Many disabled people cannot even vote because they cannot get into
the polling station.
- Disabled people don't have the legal protection from discrimination
that women and black people do.
If you would like more information on the campaign, contact:
- VOADL, c/o SIA, 76 St. James's Lane, London N10 3DF.
- Tel. 081 444 2121. Fax: 081 444 3761.
Support Civil Rights Legislation
17. Media Relations
Using the Media to Get Your Message Across
Look at advertising of products and services in your country: mass media
campaigns use simple, powerful images and slogans that are memorable and
persuasive to reach thousands of people.
Talk to producers of community radio programmes and editors of local newspapers.
Ask them to broadcast a programme or print an article about disability issues
or print a regular column by a disabled person. Encourage members to write
in to comment about these. You might be able to get a regular show on disability
issues on the radio, once a month or even once a week. Remind editors and
producers that disabled people and their families are readers and listeners.
When talking to the media, stress the human rights angle and the practical
steps which can be taken to improve things. Don't let reporters dwell on
personal tragedy-type stories. Raising awareness about disability, as defined
by the social model, opens the way to finding solutions to problems. Stress
that action on disability is everybody's responsibility.
Let media people talk directly to disabled people - for example, schoolchildren
can talk about the benefits of living and learning together and the damage
- Face-to-face personal contact
- Personal letters
- Statements of policy
- Directly distributed publicity
- Television & radio advertisements
- Signs and posters
A press release should answer five basic questions: who, what.
where, when and why. If you are letting the media know about an event, you
must let them know who is organising it, what it is, where and when it is
happening and why.
Your press release should be short, clearly written with all the relevant
details. Make sure there is a contact name and number for more information.
You need to plan press conferences at times that will be convenient
for press deadlines. The best time of day is usually about 10am on weekdays,
the earlier in the week the better.
Raising Awareness Among Media Professionals
Send out a press release announcing the press conference a week to ten days
before the event. Give an idea of the subject, but don't give everything
away. Two or three days before, you can telephone to check whether it has
been received and whether anyone will be coming along.
Why not arrange a simple Media Forum to educate media professionals?
To make sure that news and features about disabled people overcome negative
attitudes and encourage the creation of positive images and portrayals by
educating media professionals.
Invite media representatives and disabled people to discuss the words and
pictures used to represent us. You could collect good and bad examples from
magazines and newspapers.
Topics for discussion might include:
If disability issues are covered in a non-emotional, factual and interactive
manner, the public will begin to question the prejudices and stereotypes
that still exist. Make the barriers clear to media professionals and ask
them to help make the general public aware.
- words - "tragic", "stricken", "confined to
a wheelchair", "invalid", etc.
- visual treatments (television, advertising, the press) - what "message"
- interviewing disabled people
Inaccessible public transport.
Inaccessible public and private buildings, such as schools,
offices, factories, housing - leading to discrimination and segregation
in education, employment, leisure, etc.
Inaccessible communication systems.
Exclusion or segregation from key social institutions:
Barriers of Attitude
- Religious activities
- Political systems
- Health services
- Legal system
Disabled people are:
Non-Disabled People Often Feel
- bitter, resentful
- brave and courageous
- in need of cure
- smiling and cheerful in adversity
- in need of charity
- need 'special' services
Non-disabled people need to ask themselves, "Am I the reason this person
DAA's first resource kit, Media Information, contains more advice on this
continue...Stage Seven Assessing Activities and Making Changes