Getting started

When organising a meeting, ask all attendees as far in advance as possible if they have any access requirements. Don’t assume what people might need, and don’t forget that some candidates may have some specific requests. It’s good to give people the opportunity to tell you what these might be at various points, but we recommend you gather the information when first inviting people.

Check if anyone needs reading material in advance to prepare for the meeting and ensure it is presented in a format that’s accessible to them (eg. large print, easy read, emailed Word document). Don’t forget that communication support workers and BSL interpreters also benefit from getting information in advance.
Be flexible

Allow some flexibility for timings and dates. Some candidates will require extra time to plan and organise arrangements. They may not be able to accept the first date and time you suggest, so be patient.   
Be clear

Provide detailed instructions about how to get to the venue. It will also be helpful to provide details of parking, drop off areas and access to the building.

Access, access, access

Some disabled people will need support so they can take part in a meeting. This could be communication support (BSL interpreters, lip readers, note takers, etc), equipment (loop systems, etc) or Personal Assistants.
Personal Assistants can help people with physical disabilities or sensory impairments with getting from place to place, with drinks and food, going to the toilet, taking notes or minutes, turning pages and holding things. People with learning disabilities often also need support to understand reports and papers before and during the meeting.

Some people may like to bring their own personal assistant or communication support with them. Others may want support arranged for them.

It is your responsibility as the meeting organiser to ensure your service is accessible to disabled people. That means it’s up to you to arrange and pay for access support (unless attendees tell you otherwise).

If you need to book access support, Shape can help you with contacts.
Be available

Make sure attendees have a specific contact at your organisation before and on the day of the interview. Ensure this person can be contacted in various ways (eg. via email, text, and telephone).
Communication and etiquette

    • Be sensitive and confident. Remember that the disabled person will know how to manage their own situation but be prepared to offer assistance if ask for it.
    • Introduce yourself positively and in a friendly manner
    • Do not push wheelchair users without their permission. Grabbing or resting on someone’s wheel chair is not appropriate
    • When communicating with a wheelchair user, try to seat yourself at a level that allows you both to communicate at eye level
    • Do not interfere with working assistance dogs, it may distract them
    • When communicating with someone with a visual impairment, ensure you announce when you are leaving a discussion so they are aware you are gone
    • When guiding someone with a visual impairment, offer your left elbow and let them know when they are near to steps, ramps, railings or doorways
    • Do not make assumptions. Everyone’s experience is unique

During meetings or interviews

  • It may help to write points or questions down. It will allow people to refer back to them without asking you to repeat yourself. Be prepared to offer this if it appears helpful.
  • Identify candidate’s preferred method of communication and use this during interviews eg lip reading, sign language, writing things down etc.
  • Try not to speak too quickly and use clear language.
  • Look directly at the candidate when you are speaking to them. Ensure the lighting is sufficient that it is possible for everyone to view each other without any obstructions eg hands, flowers, water, computer screens etc.
  • If you are using a sign language interpreter, remember to look and speak directly to the attendee, not the interpreter.
  • If you are unsure what someone has said, be confident and ask them to repeat themselves in a friendly and relaxed manner. It helps to repeat what you think they have said so that no misunderstandings can take place.

If you are having problems communicating, then with the candidate’s agreement, ask if anyone else can assist you.

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To contact the team or make a training enquiry please email [email protected] or call 0207 424 7330

Banner image: Participant at Inspiring Futures Open Day, Royal Opera House