Let’s make our Freshers’ Fair accessible…
It won’t be long until a new group of students arrive, enthralled by the prospect of attending Oxford's Freshers’ Fair, with the majority excited about discovering new societies! In order to allow the event to be inclusive, it is fundamental to consider the needs of disabled students. Here are a few ideas of what you can do to ensure that your stall is as welcoming to disabled students as possible:
During Freshers’ Fair, there will be access hours on both days. On the 9th of October, these ‘calm hours’ will be 4-5pm, and on the 10th of October, this will take place 9-10am. During this period, ensure that there is minimal noise and stimulation, dimmed lighting, and encourage a calmer environment.
There will also be a breakout space in part of the East Schools and in part of room 11, which students can be directed to if needed at any point of the Fair. In addition to this, if you witness or interact with a student who seems distressed, please direct them to a student steward (in a pink shirt), or a member of security (in a white shirt).
Interacting with Disabled Students
A few reminders about etiquette when interacting with disabled students:
- Do not ‘pet’ or distract assistance animals
- Do not touch or move mobility aids (including canes and wheelchairs) without consent of the user.
- Speak students who are visibly disabled in the same way you would speak to non-disabled students (i.e. don’t be condescending or patronising!)
- Don’t ask invasive questions about someone’s disability – but questions such as ‘Do you have any accessibility requirements?’ are great to ask.
- Don’t offer flippant advice – suggesting ‘yoga’ or another quick fix is not helpful.
- Don’t compare disabilities to short term emotional states.
- No ‘inspiration porn’ – disabled people do not want to be called ‘inspirational’ or ‘brave’ for simply going about their daily lives.
- Remember that not all disabilities are visible.
- Offer help if you think it is needed, but accept ‘no’ as an answer if somebody declines.
Use Large Text and Subtitles
Printed event items should use large text, dyslexia friendly fonts, and high contrast colours. Try to ensure that they are not displayed too high/out of sight for wheelchair users.
If you plan on showing videos, incorporate subtitles or audio descriptions.
Please create electronic copies of any handouts which could be sent out after the Fair. This allows disabled students to get them in a format best for them.
Trigger Warnings/Content Notes
These are useful in informing students about topics or themes that might come up in that piece, which could be potentially triggering or hard to read themes. This may be appropriate if mentioning: assault, sexual violence, mental health, illnesses, and racism amongst other things.
Some students may not want to chat – let students wander at their leisure, and don’t pull them over to your stall just because they glance in your direction. Respect that some students may not want to converse!
Speak to your own committee!
Check with your own committee about their accessibility requirements, in case extra resources are needed. Some stalls do not automatically get chairs, so these would have to be requested, and certain members of your committee may prefer to work during access hours when it is quieter.
Include Access Statements
When advertising events that your society is running, remember to include access statements so that students are provided with clear and concise access information for events held within the University or elsewhere.
Lastly, please sign the DisCam accessibility pledge! And please be proud of doing so, by displaying on your stall that you have signed the pledge by using one of our printable cards.
Questions or concerns? Get in touch!