Last year I connected with Rhyannon Perkins, the Founder and Director of Be Heard Therapy and Supports through One Roof.
Rhyannon challenged me to think about some of the elements in life that many of us take for granted and how some of the following challenges can be addressed by Access Consultants.
She begins with a few questions:
1. How do you tell people how you feel?
2. How do you tell people what you want and need?
3. Is it easy for you to do that? Do people listen?
In my work, I support architects, developers, businesses big and small, and many others to ensure that their buildings are accessible and inclusive. Thanks to Rhyannon, I realised that I have not been enough of an advocate for people like Andrew.
I would like to introduce you to Andrew.
Andrew would like to tell you about his day.
Andrew has worked hard for many years to feel confident in sharing his thoughts and feelings. But, now, he is excited for you to able to be a part of his world!
"To listen to what he has to say you need to pause, you need listen with more than just your ears. You need to look, and you need to give some time to share his thoughts and feelings."
Andrew communicates with his iPad. He takes it everywhere with him because this magical device is his voice.
The next questions raise alarm bells. How many Access Consultants truly consider these factors when carrying out their work? How many designers and architects and developers care enough about people like Andrew to incorporate his circumstances into their design brief.
4. How does physical space relate to Andrew’s mode of communication?
5. What are the key elements that could be incorporated into a building that can ensure that Andrew can get his message across to people?
6. Is there space for people to be able to have room to move and be seen if sign, gestures or technology are key aspects of their communication?
7. What happens if a communication device needs to be charged?
8. Are there quieter spaces that Andrew can access so that he can effectively use his communication device?
All in all, Rhyannon wants us to ask:
9. When Andrew comes into your space, will you hear him?
10. Are you respecting his voice and allowing him to be heard?
Rhyannon invites us to explore how you want someone to feel in a physical space. From this feeling, we need to be curious about what features different people need to feel that way. How can we play a part in making people feel heard, making them feel safe to be themselves?