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Although there is no single 'standard' or method for access provision that venues and creatives work to, there are recognised areas of best practice. This can include:

  • booking access support workers with suitable skills or qualifications
  • working to professional standards in the way that access is managed and devised for a particular setting (with regard to building controls and regulated uses of public space)

For the purposes of this resource, we can think of 'standard' access as the minimum access facilitation provided in response to the content of a work or event.

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When working with venues, it is likely some access provisions will already be available or in place, but this will vary according to location and event type. This does not mean that access is freely available everywhere or that you can alway rely on external partners to know in advance what best practice might be. Usually, access provision is only selectively available.

By comparison, embedded access is a more proactive and pre-planned form of access provision, which considers the audience experience right from the concept stage or outset of the planning for a work or event.

Embedding access into a performance or exhibition is about ensuring that the adjustments provided are not tokenistic (meaning they are only basic, added last-minute, or functionally unhelpful despite the appearance of support).

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Tokenistic access is often added in at the end of the planning process, meaning there is little time or budget left to make it work as well as it could have done if more consideration had been made earlier on to ensure the experience is seamless for your audience.

It may even be woven or merged with the artistic purpose or vision so that the art and access are inseparable. In this case, rather than there being a 'core' or 'original' work from which accessible 'versions' are derived or created, the work itself has been made to be accessible throughout. For example, rather than creating a transcript for a film once it is complete, you might consider integrating captions - creative or otherwise - into the film itself (although having both is rarely a bad idea!).

Diagram showing different options moving forward.

However, there may still be reasons for setting the work in a different environment to cater for different audience needs. An artwork or event which may be fully accessible for one community may still require some element of mediation to be accessible to others.

You may also discover that some people's access needs are in conflict with other's, and it's worthwhile considering how to programme and plan around this to offer options for as many audiences as possible.