What do we mean by safe spaces and why is it important? 

Safe spaces are where people feel comfortable enough to articulate their access requirements, where they trust that they will be heard, and that actions will be taken to ensure that they have the opportunity to engage fully in each step of the process.

How do you begin to build an accessible and safe space?

There is no shortcut to making your project accessible, but here are some principles and some practical actions you can take.

  • Dont assume
    Everyone is different, and therefore has different requirements to participate no matter what communities they may be part of. The best way is to ask people what they need – kindly and respectfully.
  • Language is important
    Research and get informed- And if you are unsure, Here’s a handy list of accessible language Do’s and Don’ts.
  • Build Trust
    Many people with access needs have had to “make it work” or missed out in the past. Therefore, trust is something that needs to be earnt. Listen, and take action to ensure that everyone can participate equally.
  • Auditions
    Are your audition requirements accessible? Are people with different access requirements aware that you want them to join your project? Where are you advertising?
  • Rehearsal Process
    Artists have a unique opportunity to design their own process. As you are building your process consider whether it is adaptable, accessible and inclusive. re your audition requirements accessible?

           

A few things you can bring into your process…

Accountability Document

This is a live/working document that articulates the actions that will be taken to ensure everyone feels safe and has access to your project. It will be updated throughout the process, as the tasks you undertake shift.

An example – Charlotte, a designer, is part of the Deaf community and uses Auslan.

  • Discussions are not had without Charlotte’s Auslan interpreter present.
  • Creatives, cast and crew will be required to undergo Deaf Awareness training
  • Resources will be provided to all team members on where and how to educate themselves further on the Deaf community and Auslan.

Check-Ins

A good practice for your creative process is to run creative check-ins at the start of sessions. Set a clear structure for people to reflect and articulate how they feel, and what they need.

This gives everyone a chance to express any access requirements that they may need on this particular day. Does one person need clear instructions today, things to slow down slightly, or to keep things light?

Feedback and Reflection

Ask for feedback on your actions, and how they can be improved.

This enables the whole team to listen, respond and work together to maintain a safe space for everyone.