Nolltolerans

Nolltolerans

Tolerans

Den 16:e november är det FN:s internationella dag för tolerans! Grattis! Detta firar vi med att resonera om varför vi tror att tolerans är en i grunden dålig idé. Allt fler i vår närhet slutar att använda tolerans som vision och positivt begrepp då det i grunden bygger på en ojämlik maktrelation där en ges tillåtelse att tolerera en annan. Samtidigt verkar det generellt sett finnas lite känsla för vad tolerans är och hur den görs i praktiken, oavsett om vi menar att den inte handlar om tolerans utan om acceptans eller ”ett nödvändigt steg i utvecklingen”.

För att underlätta förståelsen och benämnandet av tolerans och möjligheten att kunna motsätta oss toleranspraktiker, ska vi ge några exempel på förväntningar i toleranssituationer utifrån rollerna A: den som tolererar och B: den som tolereras. Dessa roller finns inom maktordningar. En maktordning är en social kategorisering som alla personer har en position inom. Våra positioner kan vara centrala i samhället, perifera eller någonstans däremellan. Exempel på maktordningar är regionalitet, religion och funktionalitet.

A är en person som är i en fördelaktig position i (minst) en maktordning. A:s position i maktordningen regionalitet kan innebära att den är huvudstadsbo och därför knappt ens märker att till och med nationell nyhetsrapportering utgår ifrån dess perspektiv. Om det är i maktordningen religion kan det innebära att den är kulturkristen i Sverige och har det bekvämt med de nationella högtiderna och att den inte tolkar kyrkklockor som kallar till bön som ett inslag av religion i det påstått sekulära offentliga rummet. Om det är i maktordningen funktionalitet kan det innebära att den kan tillgodogöra sig information så som den ordnas på ett flygblad och hur flygbladet sprids.

B är en person som är i en missgynnsam position i (minst) en maktordning. B:s position om den är kopplad till maktordningen regionalitet kan innebära att den bor i en ort som inte prioriteras när det byggs gemensamt finansierade kommunikationsvägar. Om den missgynnsamma positionen är kopplad till religion kan det innebära att dess tro eller religiösa praktik pekas ut som särskild i jämförelse med praktiker som annars i sammanhanget förstås som neutrala och självklara, så som när det problematiseras att den avstår från alkohol av religiösa skäl vilket gör att den rådande alkoholkulturen i sammanhanget framstår som naturlig. Om det är en missgynnsam position i maktordningen funktionalitet så kan det vara att den blir funktionshindrad när en buss nått den hållplats den tänkte gå av på för att hållplatserna bara ropas ut via högtalare och inte står utskrivna.

Inom en toleransram förväntas A att

…eller äh, vi kommer tillbaka till det senare.

Inom en toleransram förväntas B att
  • dela information om sina livsvillkor med A (om sina svårigheter, sin kropp, sin historia, generella fakta och forskning sin situation)
  • möta A där A är i delandet av informationen, välja vad den delar utifrån vad A är intresserad av, på det sätt som A vill och när A är intresserad av att ta emot den (gärna personligt utan att blanda in politik, gärna enkelt utan akademiska ord och just nu men om tio minuter är det helt fel tid)
  • tro på dialogen, ha tålamod och inte bli känslomässigt påverkad (sur, trött) vad A än frågar även om frågan behöver besvaras ofta (det är inte personligt, inget ont uppsåt, får förstå att A är nyfiken, hur ska A annars lära sig)
  • inte kräva att A ska tänka vidare eller göra någon handling utifrån informationen (alla kan inte vara lika engagerade i detta som B, B uppfattas som en som agerar i egenintresse medan A förstås som en som agerar utifrån allas sammantagna intressen)
  • stötta A i dess känslor (sorg, ilska) och reaktioner (svordomar, tårar) på information om B:s livsvillkor men själv varken visa eller känna något, inte heller kräva stöd för dem (A blir inte motiverad att ingå i förändringen som B behöver om B beter sig så, starka reaktioner skrämmer bort A)
  • berömma alla framsteg och visa tacksamhet för allt A ger i form av tid, utrymme eller förståelse (det kan inte krävas av A som personligen inte orsakat B:s livsvillkor)
  • fokusera på det positiva (det finns alltid något att vara tacksam över, tänk på dem som har det sämre, det blir så mycket bättre hela tiden i samhällsutvecklingen speciellt i jämförelse med [sätt in valfri tid] [sätt in valfri plats], B har ju blivit så mycket starkare av sina motgångar vilket den kan vara tacksam för)
  • förändra och kontrollera sig själv (vad kan B själv göra för att bli mindre synlig och utsatt? Ändra klädkoder, språkbruk, utbildning, boende, symboler, umgängeskrets, röstläge)
  • hålla sig undan (B:s existens i ett rum uppfattas som en provokation och en tråkig påminnelse för A om bristerna som B brukar prata om)
  • inte använda ord för de här bristerna som känns obehagliga för A (använda ”orättvisa” eller ”dåliga attityder” istället för ”rasism” eller ”sexism”)
  • vara lösningsorienterad (kom gärna med kritik, men kom också med konkreta förslag! ☺)
  • engagera sig själv för att lösa problemet (B:s perspektiv är framför allt jätteintressant för jämställdhetsnätverket, forskningsprojektet, jobbet med den nya handlingsplanen, i planerandet av mångfaldskonferensen, i likabehandlingsenkäten, rekryteringsutvärderingen, i ansökningsprocessen för likavillkorsprojektet. PS. engagemangen sker just nu tyvärr på ideell basis, men i framtiden ska det finnas en budget. DS)

Vad förväntas då av A inom en toleransagenda? Inte mycket. Eftersom toleransagendan i sig bygger på och bygger upp att B existerar på A:s villkor i sammanhanget och på A:s nåder. Likväl som A kan välja att tolerera eller hjälpa (så som i välgörenhet) B så tillåts också A valet att inte tolerera B. Vad som gör B mindre tolererbar är om B gör anspråk på sina rättigheter, sammanhangets skyldigheter, sin mänsklighet. Det är om den höjer rösten och kräver något istället för att vädja. Det är om B inte lyckas pricka den där millimetern som ligger mellan att å ena sidan vara för akademisk/svårbegriplig/politisk/opersonlig/avstängd och å andra sidan för subjektiv/känslostyrd/privat/egoistisk. Då kan B få veta att den förstör för sig själv och för sin potentiella rörelse som skulle kunna uppstå om den hade en bättre attityd.

Det som hänt är att begreppet tolerans (som från början betyder att uthärda någon eller något) ändrats till acceptans eller respekt medan handlingarna förblivit de samma. Så länge vi befinner oss inom ramen för att en person med mycket makt ska få tycka saker om en annan med mindre makt och att vi önskar att förbättra attityder hos strukturellt gynnade grupper gentemot strukturellt missgynnade grupper så arbetar vi inom den nuvarande och ojämlika ordningen. Vi kan kalla den för attitydförändringsagendan, kunskapsökningagendan eller toleransagendan. Alla känslomässiga responser inom denna ordning så som är tolerans, hat, kärlek, acceptans eller godkännande återskapar tolkningsföreträdet (vems ord, liv, behov som spelar mest roll) i sammanhanget till den som idag är utgångspunkt i det. Tolerans och praktiker som bygger på tolerans vad vi än kallar dem, stärker snarare än jämnar ut det aktuella maktförhållandet mellan A och B. Toleransen erbjuds endast den ena av dem. A bekräftas som självklar medan B bekräftas som en person som eventuellt är önskvärd att uthärda och vars existens i ett sammanhang i allra högsta grad är rimlig att diskutera. En toleransinramning kan till och med ytterligare höja A:s status som en god och medveten person, och deras sammanhang som en god och progressiv plats.

Även om vi skulle prata om att tolerera någons yttrandefrihet eller nazisters organisering, är toleransen otillräcklig. Där behöver vi börja med att inte tolerera utan agera, och där tror vi mest på motstånd – att argumentera eller blockera utan att göra i grunden förtryckande åsikter demokratiskt förhandlingsbara. Toleransen sviker även för den som väljer dialog som förändringsmetod i fråga om nazister. För en dialog behövs ett möte och ett möte kräver kontakt. Det kräver att vi tar in en person utan att värdera, att vi tänjer oss själva för att rymma den vi behöver mötas med. Att tolerera är då för passivt och isolerande, som om vi givit upp och inte heller tar ansvar. Toleransen är inte motstånd och gör inte ett möte.

Toleransen är alltid problematisk fastän den kan verka som en fristad i relation till exempelvis hatvåld. Mia McKenzie har skrivit en bok som On Getting Free är ett utdrag ur. Det handlar om skillnaden mellan att bli fri och de kompromisser som en behöver göra för att överleva, kompromisser som inte har potential att leda till ens frigörelse. Toleransen är för oss en sådan kompromiss och den kommer inte att skapa den jämlikhet vi påstår att vi vill skapa.

Toleranshandlingar är alltid inom en hierarki och är inte reversibla (går inte att vända på). Det finns alltså inget så som ”att tolerera någon tillbaka om det känns dåligt”. Det spelar ingen roll om den som nu tillåts tycka till om en annan istället blir den som tycks något om. Det gör ingen skillnad om en person som blir funktionshindrad i ett sammanhang tycker illa om den som har tillgång till sammanhanget på sina villkor. Varför inte? För att problemen inte sitter i attityder eller den enas känslomässiga respons över den andra. Den som är strukturellt missgynnad kan inte ta ifrån den strukturellt gynnade personen dess lätthet i sammanhanget och samhället, självklara tillgång till allt, självförtroende som självklarheten ger, hur mycket än normaten (den som har en funktionalitet som samhället är utformat efter) känner att den tas ifrån något när någon påtalar eller jämnar ut ojämlikhet.

Ibland lyckas idén om reversibilitet i form av hatbrott mot heterosexuella, omvänd rasism eller manshat däremot få gehör i diskrimineringslagstiftning eller i hatbrottslagstiftning, fastän makt inte fungerar på det sättet. Att tala om en maktordning så som ”kön” innebär inte att vi behöver tänka att kön är något som gör alla personer oavsett position inom den sårbara på grund av kön. En könsmaktsordning innebär däremot att personer med vissa typer av kön ges mer värde, självklarhet, är utgångspunkt i organisering av samhället än andra. Medan kön spelar roll för alla personer, gynnas vissa av vilken position i maktordningen kön en tilldelas på bekostnad av personer i andra positioner. Oivvio Polite skriver i sin bok White Like Me att ”rasismens huvudmoment inte är det värderande utan det ordnande”.

Attityder är alltså långt ifrån allt. Därtill kan den lilla effekt som attityder har för all orättvisa inte vändas på. Vi kan inte välja att det ska spela lika stor roll vad en strukturellt missgynnad person har för åsikter om en strukturellt gynnad person som tvärt om. Toleransen återskapar aktuella maktrelationer, den är för passiv för ett motstånd och för avstängd för kontakt. I bästa fall är toleransen att i brist på ansvarstagande och visioner, nöja sig med mindre än vad som är rättvist efter att ha förhandlat bort sin eller någon annans mänsklighet.

Så grattis, du som fått nog, på nya internationella nolltoleransdagen. Våra alternativ är till exempel att

  • motsätta oss att arbeta inom en premiss som är orättvis i grunden (peka ut toleransen för vad den är både när den utövas mot oss själva och mot andra)
  • likt Dean Spade i Normal Life, granska effekterna av vad en praktik eller ett system gör snarare än att lita på hur de benämns av sina utövare (en praktik kan göra tolerans medan den kallas respekt)
  • hitta grunder för förändring som inte handlar om känslor eller den enas åsikter om en annan (det kan vara att jämlikhet är en självklarhet att sträva efter och inte något förhandlingsbart, etik, solidaritet eller rättvisa)
  • betrakta symptomen på problemen som gemensamma att hantera, snarare än att lägga ansvar på den som är direkt utsatt (att en person inte kan delta på en träff på grund av bristande tillgänglighet är allas ansvar att lösa)
  • erkänna att även när alla i ett sammanhang vill väl så blir det inte väl. Interfem ger många exempel på likabehandlande praktiker i sin bok Rekrytera rätt! där vi behöver se hur personer i olika maktpositioner (positioner i olika maktordningar) får olika chans att bli meriterade i ett samhälle där diskriminering är genomgående i utbildning, i ideell sektor och på arbetsmarknaden. De vanligaste (dominerande) sätten att rekrytera, så som jämförandet av CV:n och referenser verkar vara neutrala men är en del i vad Interfem benämner som meritokrati. Det behövs ingen dålig attityd för att systemet ska återskapa sig själv, där de mest meriterade blir de som får tillgång till ännu fler meriter och så vidare. En likabehandlande praktik blir att vara kunnig om strukturella förutsättningar i rekryteringssammanhang och jämna ut dem genom att istället lägga fokus på de beteenden, egenskaper och prov på kompetens som en önskar att det nya tillskottet ska ha.

 

Adrian

 

Syntolkning av bilden. Text vitt på svart bakgrund. Ett T i form av en versal. Ovanför det står tolerans. Droppar omger texten som står.Tillgänglighet och timing jag finns här när du vill, på dina villkor. Tålighet jag klarar av att du gör misstag bara du vill väl. Tillrättaläggande jag hanterar mig själv och löser mina problem så du ska slippa. Tålamod jag förklarar gärna samma sak flera gånger. Tacksamhet och tröst jag vet att mina behov är jobbiga för dig att förhålla dig till.

 

Lästips är Sara Ahmeds blogg Feministkilljoys.

“YOU might be interested in this blog if YOU:

  • Are told you are angry no matter what you say
  • Witness people’s eyes rolling as soon as you open your mouth as if to say: ‘oh here she goes!’
  • Are angry because that’s a sensible response to what is wrong
  • Are often accused of getting in the way of the happiness of others (or just getting in the way)
  • Have ruined the atmosphere by turning up or speaking up
  • Have a body that reminds people of histories they find disturbing
  • Are willing to make disturbance a political cause
  • Are willing to cause unhappiness to follow your desire
  • Will not laugh at jokes designed to cause offense
  • Will take offense when it is there to be taken
  • Will point out when men cite men about men as a learned social habit that is diminishing (ie. most or usual citational practice)
  • Will notice and name whiteness. Will keep noticing and naming whiteness.
  • Will use words like ‘sexism’ and ‘racism’ even if that means being heard as the cause of bad feeling (and are willing to cause bad feeling)
  • Will refuse to look away from what compromises happiness
  • Are willing to be silly and display other inappropriate positive affects
  • Are willing to listen and learn from the work of feminists over time and refuse the caricatures of feminism and feminists that enables a disengagement from feminism
  • Are prepared to be other peoples’ worst feminist nightmare
  • Are prepared to be called a killjoy
  • Are willing to kill joy”
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Checklist for accessibility

Checklist for accessibility

Checklist for accessibility

Accessible spaces, events, meetings, and ongoing activities

List in text follows below and can also be downloaded in the formats .docx and .pdf

The Checklist was prepared by

Gisela Janis, Equal Opportunities Advocacy Secretary 2012-2013 at the Stockholm University Student UnionThe Swedish National Union of Students’ project 10 tips för tillgänglighet (in Swedish) in cooperation with Adrian Repka, Jämfota. English translation by Micah Grzywnowicz.

Table of contents
  1. Introduction
  2. Checklist for social activities
  3. Responsibility
  4. Representation
  5. Work procedures
  6. Costs
  7. Time
  8. Food and drinks
  9. Allergies
  10. Security and privacy
  11. Text and information
  12. Language
  13. Meeting formats
  14. Presentation techniques
  15. Opening the door
  16. Checklist for physical spaces
  17. Reception
  18. Physical access
  19. Meeting rooms and workspaces
  20. Doors and entrances
  21. Stairs
  22. Elevators
  23. Walkways
  24. Outdoors spaces
  25. Toilets
  26. Accommodation
  27. Resources
Introduction

The aim of the Checklist for Accessibility is to make the Student Union widen its work on accessibility within the whole organization. The concept of “accessibility”, used in this document, is given a broad meaning. It intends to give an overview of the most important issues to be kept in mind to give everyone opportunity to participate. The society constantly changes, so does the Student Union, therefore the Checklist should be treated as a “living document” and be regularly reviewed.

The Checklist is divided into two main sections: “social activities” and “physical spaces”, accompanied with numerous sub-sections to easily guide the organizer to the relevant part. Each section starts with an example of an inaccessible arrangement in order to show how relevant this work is. There is terminology section on pages 13-17. Each section begins with the words “Remember that”. It is important to keep in mind because this is guidelines for accessible activities and not requirements. What is important is not only to know what works but also what does not work. Sometimes it will be easy to “tick off” the elements on the checklist without any remarks on greater “accessibility deficiencies”, while other times it will not be possible at all. Informing participants that something is not accessible is also one way of working with accessibility.

Accessibility is something that needs to be considered an essential part of democratic system. If people have only a theoretical and not actual possibility to participate in the activities of the student union then not everyone has the basic opportunity to participate in something that should be fundamentally democratic. It could be also useful to think of accessibility as a matter of fulfilling the basic preconditions for participation. In this checklist we have balanced those basic requirements with the elements that can be worked on simultaneously in order to achieve inclusion, safety, and comfort for more.

It is possible to learn what constitutes accessibility. This is information that can be gathered from checklists like this one. For a seeing organizer it is possible to learn concepts such as sound description, Braille, and black writing. Differences between visual impairment, impaired vision, low vision, and being blind are possible to be learnt. It is possible to learn that what is more important than the mechanical skills is the priority that the activities are accessible and convenient for all participants regardless of vision impairment. It is important that the seeing organizers try to identify assumptions about vision existing in their work in advance, especially in case it has not been seen as a priority before. It is important that the seeing organizers take responsibility even if it is hard and even when inaccessibility is “not their fault”. What can save them in cases of insufficient knowledge is humility, readiness to listen to the parties directly concerned and, for example, adapting proper language regardless of what one has previously learnt.

The basic thing to apply the checklist easily is to first identify the needs of the group in question. Posting a question regarding “needs” in the application form or invitation can easily do this. It provides information on specific requirements and assistance needs necessary for full participation. Be prepared to accommodate for any expressed needs. Different parts of the checklist can be applied depending on the participants’ responses.

The more the checklist is used and the more boxes are “ticked”, the better Student Union will be at applying an accessible approach and will be able to provide opportunity for everyone to participate on equal basis.

An invitation to a meeting

One example of accessibility when it comes to organizing activities is simply stating that everyone is welcome because we say so. It is also crucial to reflect on how inaccessibility is created and what effects it has.

When we, for instance, organize a meeting, we need to plan according to different needs that people, who we are planning to invite, have.

The most common way to cover all the needs is to base our approach on what we think is common (for instance, that people pray at certain fixed times, that everyone can be without access to the toilet for an hour, and that no one needs to pick up their children from kindergarten at a certain time). Being unaware, usually our starting point is to ask if there is anyone with any “special needs”, consequently exposing them to the rest of the group / participants. It is usually the same persons who are exposed and have to point out their needs in order to have them met. This results in situations where the, supposedly neutral, needs are hardy seen as needs.

What happens is that the person who has been exposed is identified as “them” in opposition to “us”. Any solution designed to cater for what is considered “special needs” becomes “special solutions”. They seem to be based on flexibility but they almost never are comfortable. The persons with “special needs” are often overlooked until they see that their needs do not hinder the rest of the group. There are many examples of situations when those with needs outside of the norm have to leave meetings because the run over the time scheduled for prayer, they need to use the toilet or pick up children from school. Such singling out deprives those persons of opportunity to feel a part of a “we”.

It has consequences on a society level. Sense of belonging and ability to participate in all aspects of community life without obstacles are basic public health factors. As long as there is widespread structural exclusion, mainstream groups will continue to have more opportunities to participate in labor market, education, non-governmental organizations, culture, and sport.

A more accessible way to organize meetings would be to ensure that the scope of potential needs is taken into account before the meeting starts and do not always choose to go with the norm. This requires the organizers to understand why it is important not to follow the norm.

The part of checklist below provides alternative suggestions of how one can invite people and conduct meetings, and events. Much of it is about becoming aware of the unspoken rules and assumptions that our system is based on, making some participants feel more comfortable than others. One can choose other ways to organize activities, in order to include other participants and change the discourse.

 

Checklist for social activities

Responsibility

Remember:

  • that the group in charge of organizing the event has the joint responsibility for accessibility and continuously make others aware of the needs, which have to be accommodated for
  • that lecturers and workshop leaders should have varying age, looks and background
  • to choose one person to be in charge for the implementation of the checklist and that the whole group make an assessment of the accessibility afterwards. Information about it can be obtained from evaluation conducted with participants
Representation

Remember that:

  • lecturers, experts, meeting presidium and workshop leaders should be composed of people with diverse background, age, and experience
  • pictures of people with diverse age, (dis)ability, gender, and ethnicity should be used for marketing, if any graphic material is used for PR
  • if the person directly concerned with an issue is present, they should be involved in all phases – identifying the problem, finding a solution, implementation and evaluation. If any work is done to make the Student Union accessible for students with psycho-social disabilities, the students in questions as well as competent organizations should be involved in the process.
Work procedures

Remember:

  • to start a meeting and/or event with a round of introductions and pronouns (which pronouns people present would like to be addressed with, for instance she/he/zie/they)
  • to ask what needs participants have towards each other, for instance “to be listened to”. You can also name the things that came up in application forms prior to the meeting. In this way, you can come up with solutions together, as a group.
  • that apart from lectures, there are more participatory methods that should be used, such as discussions, workshops and seminars
  • to work in smaller groups with facilitators during larger and longer events
  • to use methods such as rounds, speakers’ lists, show of hands (if possible) so that everyone present feels included and welcome to participate
  • to have games, exercises and activities that suit everyone regardless of their abilities. Think of at least two ways in which the same exercise can be done depending on participants’ needs. Sometimes, participants get to choose for themselves which method to use. Sometimes, there is a need to use the same method for all. Avoid voting on a selection of the method, as sometimes the majority comfort cannot be prioritized over the ability of everyone to participate
Costs

Remember that:

  • travel to and from the event should be booked through the organization so that participants are not forced to advance the travel costs
  • participation fees and other potential costs (such as paying for dinner) can impede participation
Time

Remember that:

  • call for participants and/or invitation should be sent out well in advance as not everyone has the same flexibility and freedom of arranging their time
  • if there is a program, arrange it in a way that there is space for breaks every 45 minutes or that participants have the possibility to influence the time for breaks
  • events should be planned with regard to holidays, celebrations or other festivals – use diversity calendar available at ww.sensus.se/almanackan
Food and drinks

Remember:

  • to take into account ethical, religious, environmental perspectives and/or allergies in the group while planning the food
  • to ask participants about their food-related needs or habits well in advance
  • that everyone should be able to eat together and eat the same food. Avoid making special arrangements as long as possible. Avoid also using words such as “special diets”
  • to avoid buffets containing food, which cannot be eaten by all participants because food or cutlery can easily fall from one container to the other
  • to always label the food and refreshments
  • that the consumption of alcohol during the event should be communicated in advance. Serving or encouraging to drink alcohol may hinder participation for various reasons, for instance religion, health issues or past experiences with alcohol abuse
  • that the dining room for people with disabilities should not be located further from the rooms and/or working venue than for people who can for example use stairs
  • to use regular tables for serving food (no bar tables)
Allergies

Remember:

  • to write in the call for participants and/or invitation that participants should avoid bringing or using common allergens, such as nuts, citrus or strong perfumes
  • to make sure that the venue and outdoor spaces used are free from plants, which are common allergens
  • that smoking should be only allowed in specially designated areas, at least 50m from the entrance
  • that toilets as well as the kitchen have unscented soap and sanitizer
  • that the venue and work spaces are cleaned and washed regularly
  • not to bring any fur animals unless otherwise specified (except guide dogs)
Security and privacy

Remember to:

  • inform participants about emergency exits and assembly points in case of accidents, such as fire
  • check accessibility of the proposed emergency exits
  • read through ”crisis plan for activities” document for the Student Union at Stockholm University
  • keep contact and personal information of participants confidential
  • hide participants’ email address when emailing the whole group (use BCC format instead of answering to all)
  • ask participants to provide you with a name and contact information to a person who could be contacted in case of emergency
Assistance

Remember:

  • to ask in advance if there is a need for sign language interpretation or audio description, induction loop or other means so that you know that you can provide them
  • that the invitation to the meeting or activity should provide an overview of how accessible the venue is. It should also indicate that the participants’ needs are taken into account when choosing the venue
Text and information

Remember to:

  • write clearly and concretely to easily get your message across
  • inform participants that all documents are available in several formats and are made available in digital text (e.g., Google Drive and .doc can be read by speech synthesizer instead of .pdf) and large print (14 points or more) at the same time as all other information
  • use “bold” instead of “italics” because italics may be difficult to read
  • organize your text with headings and subheadings
  • write minutes and other notes using the same template. Points/issues which were agreed on, discussed or were presented should be clearly visible and written in a simple language
  • describe images used in conjunction with text-based information
  • use regular tables when displaying information materials (no bar/high tables)
Language

Remember:

  • that language is a prerequisite for inclusion and participation. To be aware of one’s own language and to choose words carefully shows that we value and acknowledge participants who otherwise would be excluded
  • to replace the word “man” with “one” to avoid gendered language
  • to avoid using only gender specific pronouns such as she/he. Instead you can use zie/she/he or just ‘they’, which is not gender specific
  • that if there is a specific person in question, such as a lecturer or a speaker, it would be advisable to ask about their pronoun preference in advance
  • to explain any abbreviation used throughout the activity and not to assume that they are self-evident. In this case new participants have a chance to keep up with the input without being put on the spot
  • to develop language that functions well and is not discriminatory or offensive to anyone regardless of who is in the group
  • to send out an invitation in multiple languages (if possible) and ask participants to indicate which languages they are able to work in, including Swedish sign language and international sign
  • to try to translate texts, presentations and notes into English (and other languages, if possible), if Swedish is the language used at the meeting or lecture
  • to use a neutral and inclusive language such as “let’s take a break” instead of “let’s stretch our legs”
  • to identify and name the norm. To contrast the “toilet” with “disabled toilet” makes the “toilet” seem to be somehow neutral, while in fact it hides the fact that the “toilet” users are able-bodied
Meeting formats

Remember:

  • to have clear and explicit rules about how the meeting is run and that there is space for asking questions during the meeting
  • to use lists of speakers (with big groups) or rounds (in smaller groups) to facilitate everyone’s participation
  • to start a new year with training addressing meeting techniques and the concepts that the group intends to use are taken up, discussed and explained
Presentation techniques

Remember:

  • to inform the lecturer that it is important to keep time, use microphone, describe images, read out text, which is displayed visually (for instance, for participants with psycho-social disability or dyslexia). It is also important to ask the lecturer to stand facing participants so that they can do lip reading, if necessary
  • to have presentations printed out in at least two copies (for instance, for participants with visual impairment or dyslexia) and to send out the presentation to participants in advance, if possible
  • to have contrasts in digital / paper presentations and avoid many different colors
  • to have only very limited amount of text on each slide. It should be not more than five “bullet” points. It is recommended that each point does not have more than five words in it
  • to use images in order to facilitate understanding of the messages. It also makes it easier to keep up and follow the presentation (for instance, for participants with reading or writing difficulties)
  • to describe images and models (sight interpretation)
  • to use only black or dark blue whiteboard markers, because red and green are more difficult to see
  • to make sure that if you show a movie, it is subtitled and someone can provide sight interpretation, if needed

Opening doors

One example of accessibility in physical spaces and why accessibility work needs to address all places that are part of the work – from walkways, to outdoor spaces, to elevators and work rooms.

The most valuable accessibility work is done before participants come to the working space. However, the most common way to work with accessibility is to act after the damage has been already done, for instance when a participant got jammed and reported it to the organizers. Other situations include, for instance the lack of a door opener at the entrance with the ramp, allergic reaction due to a flower bouquet at the entrance, or being harassed by other participants because of being in the “wrong” toilet.

The most common way to work with accessibility is reactive and favoring no one. On the contrary, it can be quite unpleasant for both the victim and the organizers who are expected to address the situation and feel a great need to apologize and explain themselves. In such situations, it is likely that the organizers exacerbate the whole issue with irrelevant excuses and attempts to work around the problem.

The situation with a lacking door opener can be, for instance, ‘solved’ by the organizer saying “but it is just to call when you get here and I or someone else can come down and help you”. A door opener is not just a button but also a tool to equalize the conditions for participants and provide opportunities of greater autonomy for more persons. It will be disabling for the participant who needs a door opener to always have another person to do things for them, things that others are able to do themselves and can take for granted. The solution proposed as a replacement for the door opener may seem harmless but it can bear unforeseen consequences. The solution is a “special solution”. It removes possibility of a more equal relationship between the parties involved, as one is made to depend on the other. The solution, which was initially emergency measures, was neutralized with time, which means that no structural measures were implemented, such as the installation of the door opener.

The solution does not account for the participant’s entire stay at the event, which will lead to further comments on doorsteps that are too high to be accessible, toilets that are too narrow and without railings. It all will expose the person to discomfort and feelings of being a problem due to their body.

Inaccessibility runs a risk of causing harm and humiliation where a person can fall into the small toilet stall that lacks handrails. It also can be dangerous, for instance in case of fire when the only emergency escape route to the backyard is a fire ladder.

With this part of the checklist we would like to give organizers one more chance to make their activities more accessible, comfortable and safe for all participants.

Checklist for physical spaces

Reception

Remember:

  • to offer to participants to be met up at their arrival spot (for instance, a bus stop or airport)
  • that the drop-off place for bus/car/taxi/etc should be within 25 meters from the entrance
  • to have information desk equipped with hearing loop
  • that the height of the information desk must be accessible for wheelchair users
Physical access

Remember:

  • that unprotected glass surfaces that can be mistakenly taken for entrances are properly marked, so wheelchair users and others can see them
  • to use tape to mark both light and dark spaces
  • that existing barriers (which cannot be removed or avoided) are clearly marked both visually and in a way to allow identification with a cane
  • that rugs on the floor should not be laying loose
  • that information signs should be clear, for instance it should be clearly indicated that there is induction loop available or where different working spaces within the venue are located
Meeting rooms and workspaces

Remember that:

  • furniture should be arranged in a way that participants sit facing each other
  • the stage or podium should be easily reached by all participants, including those using wheelchairs or have other physical disability
  • in rooms with fixed seats, wheelchair users and participants with other physical disabilities are seated in a distances from the stage which allows for their full participation in a discussion or session
  • workspaces should be equipped with devices, such as induction loop, which makes it possible for participants with hearing impairment to participate in all workspaces used by a group
  • the lighting in a room is good so that one can see well sign interpretation and those who speak
  • equipment used or needed by lecturers or participants can be accessed by persons with disabilities
  • at least some seats should be quite high (about 50cm) and have supportive backrest and armrests. Also some chairs where one sits for a long time should be soft and could be fitted with pads
  • ventilation in rooms should be adapted to the number of participants
  • sound and noise levels are controlled to prevent echo (affecting tinnitus), sound tiles in the ceiling and fabric on the walls absorb sounds. Another solution is to use workrooms for parts of activities where many people can speak simultaneously
Doors and entrances

Remember that:

  • all participants, including those using wheelchairs or having other physical disability, should be able to open the doors. They must be sufficiently broad for an electric wheelchair to pass (the free passage dimension when the door is fully open is at least 0.80m)
  • doorways are free from thresholds (or the threshold is max 25mm high and beveled)
  • heavy entrance doors should have a door opener situated at 90-110cm maximum. Automatic doors with sensor should open in a way that a person using them does not get hit
  • handles and locks are easy to use and are maximum 1m above the ground
Stairs 

Remember that:

  • the lowest step on the stairs should be contrast marked
  • there are handrails on both sides of the stairs. The handrails should be contrast marked, easy to grab and without any impeding attachments
  • any stairs to the room are complemented with accessible lifts or ramps
Elevators

Remember that:

  • it has to be sufficiently large (1.1 x 1.4 m) to accommodate a user of a wheelchair or Permobil as well as an assistant
  • the space outside the elevator is large enough for a wheelchair user to move freely around without getting too close to the edge of the downward stairs
  • the best door are automatic sliding door with a width of 0.90m
  • the elevator should stop at the same level as the floor
  • the elevator panel control should have a call button and emergency alarm button located within reach of a wheelchair user (i.e. located 0.80 – 1 m above the floor)
  • emergency alarm should be seen and heard in the elevator
Walkways

Remember that:

  • soil surface is firm, smooth, without inclination or risk of slipping as well as is well lit
  • the width of the walkway is sufficient for a wheelchair user to reach the entrance and turn around (at least 1.5m)
  • the walkway is safe and easy to follow for persons with vision impairment or that there is a sufficient marking provided along the walkway, which can be created, for instance using visible skid protective tape
Outdoors spaces

Remember that:

  • the place should be accessible without passing any steps
  • it should be easy to turn and maneuver up to a table for a wheelchair user (a circle with a diameter of 1.50m)
  • persons with disabilities have to be able to use available seats
  • the surface the seats are located on should be firm, flat and smooth
Toilets

Remember that:

  • toilets have to be accessible to wheelchair users, persons using Permobil, walkers or have other physical disabilities. The toilet must be sufficiently large, there have to be handrails on both sides and there has to be free space under the sink for wheelchairs to fit there
  • toilets should be gender neutral
  • at least one toilet should have hooks for clothes, a shelf for medicine or other aid. It should also have soap and detergent available
  • the distance to accessible toilets should be comparably the same to the distance of other toilets. If it is not, the breaks should be made longer so that all participants have equal chances to use the toilets
Accommodation

Remember that:

  • the place where one sleeps is used for rest and has to be safe. If the accommodation does not feel safe or accessible it may compromise full participation of some persons
  • separate beds are preferable to bunk beds because the upper level beds are less accessible
  • the needs regarding accommodation should be registered during application process
  • you should not assume that participants identify with the legal gender registered in their passports / ID documents, or that their name implies what gender they are. It should not be assumed that participants prefer to stay in gender segregated rooms
  • you should not book too many persons in one room, unless they are consulted beforehand and you got a positive response from all persons involved
  • there should be showers, which are individual and not gender specific

Resources

RFSL Ungdom – Swedish Youth Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Rights. ”Checklist for accessibility” (”Checklista för tillgänglighet”) (in Swedish)

Så funkar det – SFS (The Swedish National Union of Students) the initiative ”Så funkar det” works to ensure accessible student environment. ”Toolkit for accessible meetings” (”Verktygslåda för tillgängliga möten”) (in Swedish)

En stärkt röst – collaborative project which brings together eight youth organizations for young people with disabilities. ”Checklist for increased accessibility” (”Checklista för ökad tillgänglighet”) (in Swedish)

Stockholm Univeristy Student Union – ”Action Plan for Equal Opportunities” (”Handlingsplan för lika villkor 2012/2013”) (in Swedish)

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Samtal om arbetskritik i Stockholm

I Jämfota ingår just nu San som är praktikant från ett tvärvetenskapligt program vid GU (Göteborgs universitet) som heter Liberal Arts. Terminen ut kommer San att jobba med en rapport om arbetssamhället och arbetskritik som ska bygga på samtal mellan två personer åt gången. Nu letar vi efter er som vill prata om detta och befinner er i Stockholmsområdet!

San ställer frågor, men du och din samtalskompis får rikta in er på vad som känns intressant för er att prata om vad gäller arbete. Det kan vara arbetets funktion i samhället, vilka arbeten som utförs och vilka som egentligen skulle behöva utföras, vilka olika möjligheter vi har att delta på arbetsmarknaden, om en skiljer på identieter och roller som privat/personligt/professionellt, erfarenheter av privatisering, ökad kontroll inom arbete och arbetsförmedling, effektivitetskrav, FAS3, ordet “arbetssökande”, tanken att arbete har ett egenvärde och att det i sig ska vara “självutvecklande” eller var ni nu hamnar.

Det får vara på vilken nivå som helst: förenklat, personligt, teoretiskt, visionärt, filosofiskt, raljerande, politiserat – vad som än trillar ut.

Hoppas att ni är massor som vill! Dela och sprid gärna. Mejla oss för mer info.

Tack! /Adrian

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