Running inclusive workshops

A query from the NSW gov research community:

I am really wary about leaving people out of the design process. ​​​​​​​How do I run more inclusive workshops?

Kimberly Richards Evershed |Senior Service Designer, Ways of Working (Design), Service NSW

  1. Pre work : speak to and understand attendees digital access requirements and level of maturity in online collaboration for online workshops. Nothing worse than having half the room unable to access your digital tool due to IT issues.
  2. Have backup plan/ plans and alternative tech ready. I mostly use Miro but I have a PowerPoint workshop template ready to go just in case.
  3. Have co-facilitators and a lead for each break out room. Their job not only to facilitate / drive breakouts but also to be eyes and ears and note taker for anyone who is unable to contribute and access the “tech”
  4. Think long and hard about pre-work and alignment activities for your participants the medium and amount of information can make it inaccessible from the get-go. Avoid long pre reading documents (they won’t be read) allocate adequate time in session to bring team to speed.

Greg Alchin | Principal Accessibility Specialist, Service NSW

Inclusion is a journey of innovation. It affords insights into customer needs and informs our design thinking.

For workshops, or any design really, I encourage people to start by thinking about their parents and other older family members, and the way their needs and challenges will change as they age. Just reviewing your workshop plan through this lens will help you identify new ways to make it inclusive.

Elena Berrocal Capdevila | Customer Experience Manager, CXU Government Made Easy, Dept Customer Service

I like using hypothetical cards (depending on the workshop activity) that elicit inclusive thinking, like for example - what would be the [solution] if all customers are CALD? Or have a cognitive disability.

I also check the language used throughout the workshop, for example I always say strawperson rather than strawman.

Kathryn Tidd | Manager, People and Information Revenue NSW

At workshops, meetings or any event you run remember to never assume anything about the participants – not all disabilities are visible! Be open and ready to provide adjustments from the outset and always design in a way which ensures everyone can participate equally and feel valued. I suggest:

  • Ask participants when they register if they require adjustments i.e hearing loops, Auslan Interpreters or specific seating in a room - they will tell you what they need
  • Do accessibility checks on all documents and presentation packs
  • Design the layout of the room with options for people to sit and move around as they need
  • Book rooms or venue’s which are accessible. Its not just building access its also access to amenities and break-out areas etc.
  • If the workshop is via MS TEAMS share upfront details on accessibility features built into TEAMS or Zoom etc. (slide examples INCLUSIVE-ONLINE-MEETINGS-slide-options.pptx)

Inclusion is a mindset and is about wanting everyone to feel like a valued contributor. You don’t need to be an expert, you just have to be curious and kind!

BONUS: Here’s a great twitter feed on the topic from ex-NSW Gov designer Jessie Callaghan