The best way an arts organisation can assess its existing policies and practices around disability and improve them is to undertake a programme of Disability Equality Training (DET)
Disability Equality Training aims to increase understanding and to effect change in relation to disability issues within organisations, institutions and groups. The training is carried out by appropriately qualified and experienced disabled people, and is informed by the social model of disability within an equal opportunities framework.
The programme of training is negotiated between the trainer/s and the organisation or group and can range from one to three days, running consecutively or over a phased period of time. Training should take place in an environment where participants will not be disturbed by routine activities such as telephones and meetings.
Note that there is a difference between Disability Equality Training and Disability Awareness Training. Disability Equality Training aims to give an in-depth insight into the issues around disability, providing the analytical tools to understand and explore the implications to work practice. Disability Awareness Training - tends to work towards general awareness and concentrates on individual impairment.
A number of individuals and organisations throughout Ireland provide Disability Equality Training.
Education and Training
Training and education in the arts can range from evening classes to full time degree courses in art colleges or universities. The barriers restricting disabled people’s access to the arts in general also apply to arts education.
In both the further and higher education sectors, colleges have become aware of access requirements of disabled students. Resource organisations such as AHEAD in the south and SKILL in the North provide useful contact points. Many colleges now have specific disability liaison officers.
www.aheadweb.org/wiki/DisabilityAccessSupportServices7 for the south
www.skillni.org.uk/links.php for the North
The attitudes of staff are crucial in ensuring that disabled people are facilitated in participating in the programme of arts activities. Disability Equality Training will increase staff awareness of disability issues and will inform the team on how to treat disabled people who are in contact with the organisation.
Organisations often find it useful to designate a member of staff to take overall responsibility for ensuring that the needs of disabled people are met and to act as a link with the disability sector.
Everyone needs to understand their role in ensuring that the building operates efficiently. Contract workers should be appraised of their safety duties and responsibilities in advance of commencing any work. Disability Equality Training is an essential component of staff training, and should be updated routinely to ensure that it has an impact and is relevant.