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Even if you are asking people to identify as disabled in order to qualify for your scheme, it is their access needs in relation to the task at hand that is the focus of the access support.

There is no point in asking if someone identifies as disabled and then not following up on it; equally you cannot assume you know someone’s access needs just because they identify themselves as disabled.

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Access support might include:

  • Support developing and submitting an application
  • Interview-stage access support such as live captions, BSL interpretation, or questions provided in advance
  • Opportunities to familiarise themselves with the space and the team involved

The more applicants know which actual processes are involved in the commission, the more straightforward they can be about discussing their access support needs. 

Successful applicants could also be asked to complete an access rider

If they are not used to this kind of form already, it can help them to identify their support needs in a structured way. Again, the support should be focused on the task or need at hand, rather than to make generalised statements which can be open to interpretation and may not be relevant for your project.

It is also a way to avoid asking invasive personal questions about someone’s health: the focus is on support, not working out how someone’s mind and body works.

Find out more about Access Riders

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In planning your access budget, consider the full cycle of the project and to what degree the artist may be involved in public-facing activities. As this is also an area where access support may be needed. 

Access support can come in a number of forms, and some of this may be delivered by people with specific skills sets or qualifications (for example sign language interpreters or PAs,) who usually charge at rates in line with their experience.

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The artist in question may have an existing person or people who provide them with support, or they may not. They may have some form of external funding in place to pay for such support (like Access to Work) or they may not. 

Artists may have preferences about the kind of support they receive. The key is to ask the questions without making prior assumptions. Open and honest discussions about this are not just useful, but essential to ensure a smooth path ahead.  

Check out our resource on developing an accessible project for some practical tips and suggestions:

Developing an accessible project resource  

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Some artists may have reason (based on previous negative experiences) to be hesitant about asking for support or guidance, and in some cases even fully disclosing their access needs.

One way to standardise this process and prevent things slipping through the cracks, is to build an access support check into any review points or milestone meetings. This can be an opportunity to check in on any wider issues that might get overlooked when people are busy on the project. Having a main contact who oversees the relationship can be helpful to build in consistency.

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Again, thinking about how this is communicated, what budget do you have for access provision and do you know what kinds of access provision might be used by the people you are targeting? 

Consider how the process can be streamlined to achieve the same results. You may find that following it, you end up streamlining all your recruitment processes of this kind, no matter who you are targeting.