With the Freshers’ Fair fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking of the exciting ways you can get new people involved in your society! However, one group you might not have thought too much about appealing to is disabled students. It’s important that your society is open and inclusive to everyone, so here are some tips to make sure that incoming disabled freshers don’t feel left out.
It’s super important to make clear what your stall and who you are in big, clear letters. This is so that people know what they’re getting into, and so that visually impaired students can find what they’re interested in without having to be within a foot of the table! There’s no reason why you can’t pair gorgeously designed promotional material with a simple sign that says exactly what you are too!
Things like violence, illness, mental health, alcohol, and food should always be content noted. It takes very little effort from you, but can make a world of difference to a disabled student. This is particularly important during access hours.
Chances are you won’t be able to make handouts that are accessible for absolutely everyone, so keep a list of emails to send digital copies to instead. That way, disabled students can make sure the handouts are in a format they can read (or even listen to)!
Access hours exist for a reason. Make sure you keep low noise, low stimulation, and low energy during this period. Remove anything that could be potentially upsetting from your stalls. Most importantly if someone mentions that something is inaccessible – trust them and address it!
It’s very important to realise that whilst you might be really excited about someone taking an interest in your stall, they might not have the energy or willingness to talk to you about it! Some people just want to browse, take a handout, and leave – and that’s okay! Try not to ‘pounce’ on people as soon as they look at your stall and give them some room to breathe.
If you are advertising any events later in term it is super important that you provide access statements for any events that you are running. If you’re unsure how to write an access statement you can use the Disabled Students’ Campaign’s access statement generator.
If you want to let disabled students that you are committed to including them, you should sign the accessibility pledge – and stick to it! Several societies and JCRs have already, and signing up to the pledge will make sure everyone knows you are well on your way to making freshers accessible for everyone!