TEDxLondon and Citi have a shared ambition to champion and advocate for disability rights and universal accessibility for all members of society. We want to encourage dialogue and engagement, to create inclusive spaces and foster debate and discussion that continues long after our events.
The ‘social model of disability’ is a framework that helps us to better understand disabilities within society. It has been, and continues to be, developed by disabled people.
The model presents the position that people are disabled and disempowered by barriers that exist in society, not by the disability/impairment that they are living with itself . The barriers to which the model refers can present themselves in many formats. Some barriers can be physical, such as a venue not having accessible entrances and/or toilets. Other barriers may be less visible but can still have a huge impact on people living with disabilities. For example, they may include negative attitudinal beliefs such as making the assumption that a disabled person might not be able to complete certain tasks independently.
At TEDxLondon we are choosing to subscribe to this model of disability as we feel it clearly articulates the need for social change regarding the understanding and perceptions of disability.
While we subscribe to the social model of disability as a framework for understanding the experiences of people living with disabilities, we also want to highlight that accessible design is good for everyone.
When we say ‘accessible design is good for everyone’, we are pointing towards two key considerations:
We will all be disabled at some point during our lifetime. When society thinks about disability, public discourse tends to focus primarily on permanent disabilities. However, temporary and situational disabilities also exist; for example, someone who has broken their arm or is recovering from shoulder surgery will be temporarily disabled. Similarly, someone may not have full freedom of movement while holding a child in a certain situation, for example. When we think about disability using this broader lens, it becomes easier to understand that we are all very likely to develop a personal connection to living with a disability during some point in our lives. Subsequently, this demonstrates that we are all beneficiaries of accessible design.
Accessible design helps everyone; Thoughtful design can help many different audiences. When cities introduced flat curbs to help those with difficulty walking, it also helped parents walking with pushchairs and people transporting large luggage. Closed captioning is often used in busy, noisy spaces to convey key messages to the public, regardless of whether or not they have a hearing impairment. We are confident that the adoption of more thoughtful, inclusive design will have a similar impact at TEDxLondon.
TEDxLondon is a growing community that we want to ensure is welcoming and inspiring to everyone that engages with our content and events. The Accessibility Charter, along with other key commitments such as our TEDxLondon ‘Code of Conduct’, will provide a useful framework to ensure that we are continually focused on creating inclusive spaces where everyone is able to fully participate.
We believe that no-one is better placed to advocate for their own needs than those who will benefit from the existence of this Accessibility Charter. We strongly believe in human-centred design, and the creation of the Charter has been user-led since its inception. The initial idea emerged in response to feedback from members of our community.
At present, an ‘experience gap’ often exists between those living without disabilities and those living with disabilities when they participate in large, public events. What we mean by this ‘experience gap’ is that often people living with disabilities do not receive a high-quality event experience as their accessibility needs have not been fully considered by event organisers.
At TEDxLondon, we want to be at the forefront of closing this gap. We believe this outcome will be achieved by implementing policy on the concept of equity, rather than equality.
We realise that the current issues surrounding accessible design spread beyond TEDxLondon. We know from personal, emotional stories from our community and further afield that accessible design at events often feels like an afterthought. At the same time, we know many organisations are eager to improve their capabilities when it comes to improving the accessibility of their events. We will actively seek out opportunities to share lessons from our accessibility journey with such organisations.
We are at the very beginning of our journey regarding the promotion of Accessible Design here at TEDxLondon. We recognise that in the first version of our charter, and also within future versions of the charter, we will not succeed fully in capturing the needs of everyone that attends TEDxLondon events. We really want to create an open, ongoing dialogue throughout our community around how we can continuously improve accessibility at our events.
If you have any thoughts on how we can improve the Accessibility Charter please email firstname.lastname@example.org or share your thoughts via this survey.
Accessible Design at TEDxLondon is a journey in which, as an organising community, we will continually be reflecting on our event production practices and asking, how can we do better?
Below we set out the commitments we will follow as TEDxLondon in order to create inclusive, welcoming spaces for all at our events.
Like many large-scale events, at TEDxLondon, our programming can sometimes generate loud noises and attract large crowds to certain areas within the event venue that we occupy. We recognise that, for many people, these circumstances can become disconcerting and overwhelming. Wherever possible, we want to minimise the impact of these circumstances upon the attendees that they may affect the most.
TEDxLondon commits to providing quiet spaces at any of our large-scale events (1000+ attendees) so all guests have access to a calm, tranquil space should they require it.
At many mainstream events, there is often only one medium in which event content is presented – and this approach automatically excludes many people living with disabilities. At TEDxLondon we are on a journey to communicate ‘ideas worth spreading’ via a number of accessible means including closed captioning, subtitled livestreaming and pre-event packs.
TEDxLondon commits to providing the content we deliver onstage in a variety of accessible formats.
It is very important to us at TEDxLondon that the topics, voices and speakers that we showcase on our stage are representative of the audiences and communities that we serve. We also realise that the voices and& perspectives of people living with disabilities are often marginalised in the public sphere and wider society. As part of TEDxLondon and Citibank’s joint commitment to act as an advocate of disability rights, we want to play an active role in rectifying this.
TEDxLondon commits to representing the personal stories of people living with disabilities, and issues facing disabled communities onstage at our events.
We recognise that for many people discussing their disabilities or accessibility needs is a very personal, sensitive matter, and that carrying out these conversations in a public setting may not be preferable. Wherever possible, we want to respect every individual’s right to choose whether they disclose their disability/disabilities; and to do so in a manner that does not exclude these individuals from accessing relevant support/adjustments whilst present at TEDxLondon events.
TEDxLondon commits to providing anonymous access to accessibility support wherever possible at our events to protect people’s right to choose whether or not to publicly disclose their disability.
At TEDxLondon, we deliberately work with thoughtful venue partners that have considered accessibility principles during the design and creation of their venues. However, even with such forethought, we recognise that having these strong foundations is not always enough to guarantee that people with accessibility needs have a smooth event experience. Sometimes assistive technology can break, entrances can be blocked. Leveraging our own event planning expertise, and the collective insight of our TEDxLondon community, we will carry out thoughtful checks ahead of each event to ensure that accessibility is maximised in the venues that we’re using.
TEDxLondon commits to conducting an ‘accessibility audit’ (as described above) of the venues we use to host our events prior to each event. The audit will be overseen by senior counterparts in the TEDxLondon and venue teams.
Throughout all TEDxLondon events, we want to ensure that the volunteers that help us to bring the event to life are both capable and confident in dealing with any accessibility queries that arise. We understand from working closely with our community that the presence of informed, friendly, helpful event coordinators can make all the difference.
TEDxLondon commits to training and educating our volunteers to provide considered, thoughtful support that addresses the accessibility needs of our audience, speakers and supporters.
As outlined in the values of the Charter, we appreciate that building truly inclusive/accessible spaces will be an ongoing journey for TEDxLondon. We want to continue to improve and refine our approach to accessibility by capturing any negative incidents that occur at TEDxLondon events regarding accessibility so that we can learn from these experiences to help us in shaping even more inclusive design in the future.
TEDxLondon commits to conducting a ‘live’ incident reporting system in which all core team members and tribe members are required immediately to create a report which documents any incidents that arise relating to the accessibility of TEDxLondon events.
We understand that, if you have certain accessibility needs, it may take you longer to get to key spaces at our events, such as the auditorium. Following on from our commitment to
understanding disability outlined within the social model of disability, we believe that such circumstances are underlined by insufficient and adjustments in society, rather than due to the disability itself. Taking this reality into account, we want to provide priority access to key spaces for those who need it so you are able to enjoy the full TEDxLondon experience.
TEDxLondon commits to providing priority access to the auditorium and other spaces of interest in the venues that we use to host our events to ensure a high-quality event experience for everyone.