Independent Living Institute


Disability Awareness in Action
Resource Kit No. 3

Published by © Disability Awareness in Action, All rights reserved

Download the "Campaigns Kit" as a PDF file (120 KB)

Stage Six Publicising the Issues


13. Organising an Event

The Venue

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, ramps.

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 for flexibility.

On the day, the major organiser should be as free as possible to deal with any problems.

14. Accessibility


Alternate Media

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.

Written Word

Should be available in:

Spoken Word

When speaking to someone who has a hearing impairment:

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?

Personal Assistance

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 less.

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.

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 sentence.

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:

16. Publicity


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 and badges.

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 are liked.


A slogan should be easy to remember and should state the aims of your campaign clearly.
"Equal Rights for Disabled People Now."
"Rights Not Charity."
"Education For All."
"Access is a Right."
Information Packs

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.

Other Materials

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.

Action Ideas


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, contact:
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:
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!

For further information contact:
BCODP, De Bradelei House, Chapel Street, Belper, Derbys. DES 1AR. Or read:
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


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 people.
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.

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 of segregation.

Most Effective
Least Effective
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.

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.
Raising Awareness Among Media Professionals

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:
words - "tragic", "stricken", "confined to a wheelchair", "invalid", etc.
visual treatments (television, advertising, the press) - what "message" is given
interviewing disabled people
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.

Environmental Barriers

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 information.
Inaccessible communication systems.
Institutional Barriers
Exclusion or segregation from key social institutions:
Barriers of Attitude
Disabled people are:
Non-Disabled People Often Feel
Non-disabled people need to ask themselves, "Am I the reason this person feels disabled?"

DAA's first resource kit, Media Information, contains more advice on this subject.

continue...Stage Seven Assessing Activities and Making Changes

Contents Campaigns