Accessible communication

Whitehorse City Council in Victoria is ensuring all community members have the opportunity to communicate with Council in a manner that meets their needs.

The Whitehorse Accessible Communication Project has provided an opportunity for Whitehorse City Council to bring Victorian eastern metropolitan region (EMR) councils together to provide more accessible communication to the community.

The Local Government Accessible Communication Guide captures the research, knowledge, information, and resources resulting from forums and workshops held in 2013, involving Eastern and Metropolitan Region councils.

In response to requests from local community organisations, the Community Organisation Accessible Communication Guide was also developed from the Local Government Accessible Communication Guide.

The guide was developed with the knowledge that people’s ability to read at a proficient level and understand and interpret information influences their ability to make informed decisions and participate in community life.

The barriers experienced may stem from limited education opportunities or outcomes, the presence of a disability, speaking a language other than English and a lack of confidence or feelings of being overwhelmed with the amount of information presented at any one time.

Community organisations have a history of offering information in alternative formats at the request of an individual or community group; such formats have included: making information available on the internet, translation of information into community languages, producing large print and audio versions of documents and the development of summary documents.

However, people who experience literacy or communication barriers may not be aware that they can request information in an alternative format.

The guides provide information on creating communication that is respectful, inclusive and accessible by all in the community.

Whitehorse City Council’s Metro Access Development Officer, Maureen D’Arcy, recently won a coveted Victorian Disability Award for her work on this key council guide, in the field of accessibility.

The Accessible Communication Guide and the Community Organisation Accessible Communication Guide are available on Council’s website at www.whitehorse.vic.gov.au