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Emmanuel Centre hosts accessibility seminar



Simulation exercises were used recently by the Emmanuel Centre in a Professional Development one-day workshop to demonstrate how to make events more accessible in the Archdiocese and beyond. PHOTO: Supplied.

Simulation exercises were used recently at an Archdiocesan professional development one-day workshop conducted by the Emmanuel Centre, with the aim of demonstrating how to make events more accessible in the Archdiocese and beyond.

Some 22 representatives from across the Archdiocese attended the workshop, which was sponsored by the Archdiocesan Finance Office and included some people using wheelchairs, a walker, a zimmer frame, a gopher, a blindfold, or a sign that said “I am deaf” in an effort to provide greater understanding of how those with a disability cope with the various challenges and difficulties they experience in communicating and getting out and about.

Attendees were also told not to use their voices to communicate to make the simulation exercise an even greater and more realistic challenge.

Fr Paul Pitzen, from the Ministry with Deaf and hard of hearing, said participants undertaking the simulation exercise using a wheelchair or a walker were confronted with negotiating doorways and other challenges, such as stairs.

Fr Paul went on to explain that participants noted their amazement at the difficulty they faced when using a wheelchair, with some participants saying that prior to the workshop, they would not give a second thought to the challenges faced by those with a disability.

“One participant who was given the task to communicate with a deaf person without using her voice, said that she has a new incentive to learn sign language,” Fr Paul said.

Emmanuel Centre Co-ordinator Barbara Harris went on to explain that the workshop also provided time to demonstrate examples of what not to do, in addition to what can be done to provide greater access.

“A surprising starting point for many was with issuing invitations to an event. Questions such as, how do we invite people? Do we use all the means of communication that we now have available such as social media, email and web pages?

“Another question that needed to be asked was, what colours do we use for our invitations?” Barbara Harris, who is herself colour blind, said samples of colours that are not helpful were passed around to the participants.

“It is amazing how much material was covered in two hours.

“Participants looked at many different issues, including how to set up a room for a meeting, bearing in mind what is needed, arranging the chairs – so that everyone has a clear view.”

Fr Pitzen also said that several volunteers at Emmanuel Centre have been learning how to caption and AUSLAN videos.

The Emmanuel Centre is prepared to work with anyone who wishes to make their events and services more accessible for people with disability.

For more information, contact Barbara Harris on 08 9328 8113, or email, or write to 25 Windsor Street, Perth WA 6000, or check out website