SCANZ 2020: Making Your Communications Accessible

SCANZ 2020: Making Your Communications Accessible

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- Tēnā koutou katoa, ko Susan taku ingoa. Hi, welcome to the webinar on accessible communications. My name's Susan, I'm on the Executive Committee and it's fabulous to see so many of you here. I don't know if any of you have been to any of the other webinars so far, but I've been lonely coming to you all from Ōamaru. And it's interesting to know that there are actually 35 people out there and counting that are attending as well.

Today, we have a panel for you about making your communications accessible, brought to you by SCANZ, which is the Science Communicators Association of New Zealand. We are a group of professionals who tell stories about science and are passionate about everything that surrounds that, improving science literacy, how to improve our communications, and how to reach new audiences. So hopefully this panel will give you some ideas about that last one in particular. This panel about making your communications accessible, just before I pass over to our lovely panellists, I want to let you know what we mean by that. So when we're talking about accessibility communications, in general, we're referring to people who have needs for communication access that may not be, I suppose, thought of in your normal everyday assumptions.

So this might be deaf and hard of hearing people, blind and low vision people, right through to people who have specific needs for reading like dyslexia or attention issues. And this panel was in some ways inspired I suppose, even though it's not a COVID panel, by the real attention this year that's been put on the deaf community with everyone in New Zealand getting so exposed to some of their lovely interpreters. So we've invited three fabulous people to speak to you who I'm going to introduce now, and hopefully they'll say hello. So they pop up on your screen and you can see who they are. First speaking, we're going to have Dr. Arash Tayebi, who is the CEO and founder of Kara Technologies.

Kara is an AI, a platform which translates the written word into New Zealand Sign Language. Hannah Slade is going to speak next. I think Hannah is about to say hello-- - Hello, hello everyone, hi. - And Hannah is the Programme Manager for Be.Leadership, which is a programme which provides leadership development and prioritises those with access needs.

She also has an MA in English and works for the communication squad at Be.Lab. Now, originally on your programme, our third speaker was to be Rāwā Karetai, unfortunately, due to the gorgeous weather you're having, if any of you are in Auckland today, Rāwā had a flight delay and is currently in the air. But we have found a most wonderful presenter to substitute, and that is Ollie Goulden. Ollie works for the Disabled Persons Assembly. He is the Kaituitui for the Wellington Region and works for CCS as the Disability Leadership Programme Coordinator. Did I get that right Ollie? - Regional Disability Leadership Coordinator- - There we go. - For the Central Region

- A few words mixed up. - That's okay. - So now that I've introduced them all, I will leave it to them to tell you, first of all, about themselves and why it's important that you make your communications accessible. And I think we're gonna start with Arash. - Hello everyone, hopefully you can hear me okay. So I'm Arash.

I am interested in technology, accessibility and the startups. I am a co-founder of a company called Kara Technologies and what we do again at Kara Technologies, we are looking for making services and information accessible in New Zealand Sign Language, using digital humans. I came to New Zealand in 2013, to do my PhD in electrical engineering in University of Auckland. Back then I was super passionate about the technology and startups and so many things. I thought I could finish my PhD easily, I could have my high tech startup, I could be the next Elon Musk, so I was super excited. However, in 2016, I been diagnosed by a disease called Menieres.

So Menieres is a inner ear problem, and basically you get the severe vertigo attacks, so it's like worst of your hangover every day. So at the same time, I lost hearing in one ear. So it was really challenging for me. And also the doctors in New Zealand told me there is a chance of getting other ear affected as well because I got this disease when I'm young. So like all of the engineers, I go into panic mode and I tried to provide a solution.

So that's why I was very interested to the deaf community challenges. And so I start talking to the Deaf Education Centres because it was very, very shocking for me when I figured it out. In our department, like electrical engineering department in University of Auckland, we don't have any deaf students who was doing a PhD.

And also I was involved in high tech startup ecosystem in New Zealand, I couldn't find any deaf person. So I was wondering why is that. So it was an annoying question for me. So going back to deaf community and asking the same question, I understand that accessibility is very, very important. And how we could make our education system, our everyday communication, et cetera, et cetera, accessible for every people.

So I was again, very furious (chuckles) and I started talking to Deaf Education Centre, I was like okay, I'm very passionate about the technology and I like to see how the technology can help. So right from the beginning, and I told them what is your number one problem? They said, okay, we don't have enough teachers in New Zealand. And I said, okay, there's a technology called online education.

We bring the teacher for you. They were like, well, the teachers cannot sign. So sign language is very important and online education also is not accessible for deaf kids.

Then right from the beginning, I was like, okay, there's a technology called Closed Caption Technology, I can design in such a way which is suitable for New Zealand accent, you could get a technically close caption for everything. So I solve your problem, huh? (laughs softly) Like the people from the school would go like this, no. And I asked them why? And they said, well, deaf kids cannot read. And for a person who's deaf and born in New Zealand, English is their second language. So, having expected to reading text super fast doesn't make sense. And it resonates with me very much because English is my second language so for me, everything subtitle is not very good.

So then it was my first time learning the most important lessons of designing accessible communication is. You cannot design a system to be inclusive and accessible FOR somebody. You have to design it WITH somebody. I learned to basically shut up and listen. So from there we worked together, we created Kara Technologies and we did a couple of successful pilot in New Zealand schools. And now we did one overseas also pilot.

So everything is going very well. So we have a very bold vision of providing accessibility for deaf communities. So because I'm assuming that people here are interested in science and designing, and I wanna reflect back on the idea of designing an accessible communication WITH somebody, not FOR somebody.

I just give you an example like FaceTime, for example, is when they designed it, they haven't included deaf people. They haven't had the idea of including deaf people in mind. However, the deaf community using it the most.

However, during the COVID times... That was a lucky situation because in the design process it hasn't been included. But what we figured out during the COVID time because we have a couple of deaf staff on our company, we have to start to work from home. And we figured out how Zoom and Skype and FaceTime are not very designed in terms of the accessibility and how lacking. And with a little bit of twist in the design perspective, you can make it much more accessible for broader people.

I just wanna reflect on the lesson that I learned from hard way So on your design there, try to include the people who you are designing for right from the beginning. So that's me, so I pass it onto the next person. - Thank you, Arash, that was fabulous.

And I think one of the things you've translated is "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" am I correct? Yeah. It's one of my top reads at the moment. (chuckles softly) So I'm gonna pass over to Hannah now, who's gonna share a little bit from her perspective.

- Hi, thanks Sooz and thanks Arash. Great to hear from you. So, I'll just start with a little bit about my journey with accessibility.

I've had the pleasure of working with the team at Be.Lab since 2015. So I came on as their Be.Leadership Programme Manager. Be.Lab used to be called, Be.Accessible so you might be familiar with their work as Be.Accessible. I was really drawn to their mission to make New Zealand the most accessible country in the world. And also the use of language.

I really love the way that Be.Accessible now Be.Lab challenges people to think about language. The term "access needs" sort of was made popular by Be.Lab

as an alternative to talking about disability. And the reason that we have been doing that is to highlight the fact that actually it's not just the one in four New Zealanders who have what maybe people think of when they think of disabilities. Access need is a term that incorporates everyone and how we're all individuals. We have different needs when accessing education, employment services, society, and/or communications as well. And the use this framework of accessibility to shift the responsibility from the individual to the supplier or designer of a service or whatever, really. Whether it be a building or communications.

The term disability has in the past been used to 'other' people whereas access needs is inclusive. And it starts getting us to think about us all as individuals. So my role as Programme Manager for the Be.Leadership Programme has been an incredible experience for the past six years, a unique experience and insight into connecting with people individually to understand their access needs, and understand what's possible in terms of access and participation. When you actually build a culture where people are encouraged to state their needs unapologetically and openly, it's an incredibly diverse group of people who come together each year with really, really different access needs. What's been quite interesting is often people might have competing access needs.

So somebody with sensory issues may have difficulty with loud noises, whereas somebody with visual impairments might need an audible alert when something's about to happen. All sorts of different requirements. So it's been a real education. First of all, from my point of view as somebody who's coordinating the programme to be able to say, I'm gonna try my best here.

We're gonna try our best. We might not get it right, but we'll keep asking and we'll keep trying. And I think that's really something that I think is very important when it comes to this concept of accessible communications, is to be curious and to not make assumptions and to see it as a work in progress. And as Arash was talking about before this concept of 'designing with', but I might mention a little bit more about that in a minute. So I've also been supporting the marketing and events team at Be.Lab.

So that's provided me with some really different learnings in this area as well. We have a set of accessible document guidelines and accessible web guidelines. We use all this stuff that sort of best practice accessibility as our guiding philosophy.

But we're a little bit hesitant about this notion of best practice. I mean, it's fantastic to aim for that as your end goal but it does almost encourage people to have sort of a tick box approach. And there's certainly no such thing as a one size fits all method of communication. You just can't do it. You can tick all those boxes, but you cannot be sure at the end of that, that you've nailed it.

That's why this notion of curiosity is really important to us. So we have, over the past few years, been developing a framework to help us sort of guide our design and in fact, our leadership philosophy as well. And when we talk about possibility, we have this notion of moving on from accessibility actually looking beyond it and exploring what's possible. And so for us, a really key concept which Arash mentioned before, is this 'designing with'.

There's a great piece of work by Kat Holmes, the book is called "Mismatch". It's a really great look at how design often gets things wrong because it's the result of assumptions. People do make assumptions when they're thinking about access needs. They think, well maybe somebody who's blind might require this or somebody who's deaf might require this.

And not everybody who's blind has the same needs, not everybody who's deaf has the same needs. So this concept of designing with, asking people what's the best form of communication for you? What are your needs? Working with them to design something that works for them. So the other concepts that we have been bringing into our possibility framework is a notion of facets. So when we're thinking about designing something, we need to understand every single individual has unique needs and unique access needs in particular. Where have I got to in my notes? Here we go. So communication is a form of negotiation exploration.

What works for me might not work for Arash or might not work for Ollie. While we encourage people to be brave about stating their needs, we want to foster a culture of constant curiosity about the needs of the people around us. So in terms of those questions of who, what, where and why, so who has specialised communication access needs? Well, we all do, actually. And if we're coming at communication from a possibility framework, we can't look at a list of things to tick off.

We need to think really creatively. And we need to be constantly curious and constantly trying and maybe failing and then trying again. When there are varying access needs, do you focus on one at a time to nail the message? Well, I think we need to be prepared to tailor our communications for people.

So to say to people what's the best way of contacting you? What's the best way of sending you information? So it is a work in progress. And then coming back to people and saying, did I get that right? Was that accessible for you? And if it's not right, try again. So why is it important to consider access needs and what we create? Well, because it's actually this notion of access needs is about all of us. We have this terrible myth that has guided design for a really long time and that's the myth of the average. And there's a great Ted Talk from Todd Rose about this. And it's this notion that if we designed to the average, we're gonna suit most people.

Actually, if you design to the average, you hardly suit anyone. This concept of the average has just put us wrong for so long. Additional why, okay, the COVID world, why is this so important right now? Because we are all communicating in different ways. Online meetings, workshops, learning in a COVID landscape presents so many more challenges in terms of accessibility. So I guess for me, what do we need to do here? We need to get rid of this one size fits all idea.

We need to in our online spaces, create a container where there's an opportunity to state your needs. To say, hey, no, this isn't working for me. Check in with the people you're working with. How are we getting on? Is this working for everyone? And create a space, a culture of curiosity, negotiation, exploration and bravery. And that's sort of, yeah, that's what I've got to share today. - Wonderful, thank you, Hannah.

I'm not sure if this will come up in the questions. While we're here, I wanna remind everyone that there's a Q&A question place in your Zoom bar down at the bottom. There's also... Can I say the attendees today are fabulous. People are sharing resources about this and all sorts of things.

So hopefully we'll make that available alongside the webinar when it's published online. And Hannah, I might contact you to grab some of those Be.Lab resources for that too, if that's okay. - [Hannah] Absolutely, yeah. - Cool. So next, we're going to go to Ollie,

who is the super hero that's jumped in this morning. Yay, Ollie, and I'll pass over to you. - Kia ora everyone. Thanks Sooz for inviting me. It's great to be here and having a chance to speak to everyone.

I haven't really had time to prepare very much. So please forgive me. So I suppose just a little bit about myself. I'm a disabled person, I use a wheelchair. And as Sooz mentioned earlier, I work for two disabled people organisations. And I guess what I wanna talk about today is my work during COVID, and the lessons that I learned during lockdown.

First of all, the communication was not all that great at times during lockdown. A lot of people, a lot of the communities were left out in the dark not knowing really important information. So the format in which things are delivered is really, really important. Sorry, I'm a little bit disorganised.

All right, so I just wanna go back to why. I'll start at the beginning. I believe that everyone has value as a human being and quite often people who have communication difficulties are ignored and don't have a chance to have their say.

So I'm really, really passionate in making sure that people who have speech difficulties or who have learning disabilities or any other sort of access need, have the opportunity to have their say and to contribute to society. I'm sorry, I completely lost my train of thought. (indistinct) - So, Ollie, it's so wonderful that you've joined us this morning on such short notice. I can understand why this would be so hard to do.

Maybe you could tell us a little bit about, did you face any challenges during COVID with your work and communications with the organisations you work for in getting information out to people who might have all sorts of very different needs? - Great question, thanks very much so. Yeah, different needs. Getting communications out to people was really difficult. Accessing, for example, interpreters for the deaf community is really difficult at times because there's only a limited number of them in the country and also the funding issue. These people deserve to be paid for their time obviously. And when you're a smaller organisation that is struggling for funding, it can be really hard to find money to pay for interpreters.

So that's a real challenge. Same with Easyread. We want information to be available in Easyread, but there's only a limited number of people who do the Easyread translation and also again, in the funding issue, that's a big one. The other thing too that happened during COVID, was that people were just forgotten about. For example, there was a website that was meant to be accessible. It was one of the big or whatever it was.

In the beginning it wasn't accessible. And so a lot of people sort of got quite angry about this because they couldn't access the information. So quite often disabled people are an after thought, so I suppose. I think as we're speaking to people and realising that not treating people as an afterthought or as a nuisance is really important.

- Sometimes it's really true, right? So what would you suggest to our attendees who are from all sorts of different backgrounds, but have in common that they are trying to get science and information out to people who may have some of the difficulties that you're working with? - Well, I think the best thing is to engage with the people that you're trying to reach. Rather than just making something and then saying, here you go, we made a thing for you, actually engage with say people who have learning disabilities and say, what would be helpful for you? Or people who are neuro diverse. Speak to them and say what can we do that will make this information accessible and appropriate to you? Yeah, I suppose that's the biggest thing is just talking and listening to people. - Wonderful, thanks Ollie. And look at that, you managed to fill the eight minutes we gave you. So thank you all three of you so much.

We've got loads of questions coming in from everyone. So I'm just gonna find those. What you were just saying at the end there, Ollie I thought connected back so nicely with what Arash was saying and Hannah was saying as well. But there was a question specifically for Arash that I thought I'd kick off with. And that was that, "Have you provided feedback to those services "like FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom "to make their accessibility settings more obvious?" And I'm going to add this to this question or to get your services on those things? - Yes, we did.

Because I'm having a telecommunication background, the whole Zoom, and the Skype designed in such a way that packet sizing designed in such a way that it's favouring the audio rather than the visual and the video. So if the connection goes bad, the first thing that will sabotage is the video. But some people only using it just for video communication, and we try to provide some suggestions.

Also we talked to the New Zealand Relay Service for Interpreters. It was a whole of a mess, but yeah, we did speak up as much as we could. - Excellent. So, Kay has a question here. Their favourite resource for designing or improving services is something... Oh, it doesn't seem to be included in that sentence, sorry, Kay.

But could some of you share a story of how to establish and use co-design for services and how early can collaboration start? Maybe Hannah would like to start here 'cause I know that Be is really involved with using co-design. - Yes, so, I can only speak from my point of view. I'm not involved in the actual design work, but I can certainly speak to that from my point of view.

So in terms of this notion of co-design, we really try to work with people to get away from the notion of just having a wee chat with people for free. Because a lot of people don't see people when they're giving their time to educate about different access needs they don't see that as expertise. And we get that a lot.

I think there was an organisation in New Zealand, I'm not gonna name them, but they did a lot of accessibility work by just getting some people with access needs and disabilities to walk through their stores or wheel through their stores and give them some feedback, and that wasn't compensated in any way. I think a lot of my friends who are visual designers actually get this too. Can you draw this for me? You're really great at this, can you do that? The really key thing about 'designing with' is acknowledging and respecting the expertise that that person is bringing. So I'd say that's the first step. In terms of where does that go in the design process, well, it should go all the way through, so at the beginning, at the middle, at the end.

In terms of how to establish the co-design process, like I said, I'm not in the design team, but I would say that we would always say is just to start, start that process, and you might get things a wee bit wrong, but just give it a go. Arash has experience in the area, so I'll hand over to him to share. - I have a very quick story to share. One of the projects that we are doing is with one of the airports in the UK. So in UK, they have a movement called Sunflower Lanyard, so that people with the different access needs, they can go to.

And they're supposed to bring a sign language accessibility to that. So, our avatar Niki would be available to sign. So when you start a project, usually engineers come across and provide so many solutions, and one of the things that I learned from the co-design is you have to include the targeting people right from the beginning.

For example, as a interpreter or sign language speaker, you never put the lanyard here, it's just a big no, no, because it's so distracting. It's like me talking with my hand in my face. So by talking to deaf community and they will come across with a very interesting idea. So now avatar put the lanyard here, so you still can see the lanyard but at the same time in the co-design is not only respected, but it's so innovative because they know the problem more than anybody else. So the answer is ASAP right from the beginning, because you'll end up with embarrassing stories.

- Everyone's gonna end up with an embarrassing story if they just start somewhere though. Sorry, Ollie did you have a story to go with that question? - Sorry, what was the question again? Sorry, you're on mute, Sooz. - So, can you share a story of how to establish and use co-design for services? How early can collaboration start? - I can't think of any particular stories, but how early can collaboration start? Right at the beginning. Right at the inception of the whole thing. In my work, there's nothing that annoys me more than coming in at the end of a project and going, no, you've got this all wrong, and having to fix the whole thing. It will be much easier to just come in right on the ground floor and say, this is what we need and this is how we need it done.

Yeah. - Cool. Thank you, Ollie. So next question again, directed to all of you, have you found many employers or government agencies that address accessibility with communication staff to increase awareness? And I think that would be yes and... (giggles) What do you mean on lighter? - [Hannah] I'm just love a bit of clarification around the question, please.

- Sure, maybe I'm not sure who asked that, but perhaps anonymous attendee could chuck something in there. I suppose if I can start interpreting it perhaps, is there some sort of training that's going on behind the scenes with communication staff? So that thoughts like giving existing information for people like the deaf community, like blind and low vision people who have specific needs. Are communications professionals aware of this? I mean, I know we are here talking about it. Perhaps I'll combo it with another question that's come up is, shouldn't government prioritise communicating to those who are most reliant on services and maybe harder to reach first? And are there ways to make this happen? I suppose the first question is asking about, are there ways to make this happen as well? Are they happening out there, do you know of? - So I'll just quickly jump in. Not as such, actually. I just wanna be a little bit direct here.

We all try to work on accessibility a lot and usually people or a big organisation will see it as a kind of 'being kind' or just doing as a marketing and PR thing to provide the content accessible, and that is not acceptable. The thing that is happening in the U.S. for example, ADA which sometimes forces the organisations, absolutely crucial to have it in New Zealand. So sadly the law doesn't have enough bigger teeth to mandate the companies and services and some part of a government to make the content accessible. And in New Zealand, there should be something to protect all people with different accessibilities. - Just generally talking about what is being done, I know that there is a free micro-credential at Victoria University, that's been made available to Department of Internal Affairs staff, to help make Digital Public Services more accessible.

That's a really great initiative, beginning of this year I think it was rolled out. Also, I'm just thinking more generally the communications degree at AUT, does offer an accessible communication module. I do think though and obviously there are government standards for accessibility as well, I do think though that it is still a very 'tick box' sort of procedure. I'd really love to see some shifts there, and thinking about accessibility is still very much, "yes, we've done that, yes we've done that, "now we can move on." We want to move people into the possibility space, what's possible, that broader perspective. - Cool, so I hope the attendees will forgive me for some of this.

There are some questions coming up that are similar and that feed into each other. So I'm also kind of bringing some of them together. There's a couple of questions here. "What role can communicators play in promoting "positive stories or highlighting problems?" I suppose with accessibility of people's communications or recognition for people who have these access needs? And there was another one that joined with that, that seems to have disappeared, oh dear. (giggles softly) Not disappeared, maybe someone deleted it.

Sorry, I'll ask that again. So, "what role can communicators play, we as communicators "in promoting positive stories or highlighting problems", and I guess eliciting change in this area? - Can I jump in? (chuckles softly) I think there's absolutely that role available to us. And I think we need to really decide what the role is that we want to play. I think certainly at Be.Lab, our approach is to focus on the positive stories and really to shine light on that. But there are obviously other forums where there is more emphasis on what's not working.

I think we just need to be really clear about what story we're telling and why we're telling it. And also, whose story is it to tell. Making sure that people who are being affected actually are the ones who are telling these stories. - I just wanna tautoko what Hannah said about the people that are being affected are the ones who are telling their stories.

I think so often, disabled people's stories are filtered through an able voice, through the medical system or through other organisations of power. And I think it's really important to amplify the voices of disabled people, not speak FOR them. It makes it more authentic. That's what I want to say. - Also, just in terms of the language we use, I think this is so important that we really do think about how the language we use is setting the tone, is creating a narrative.

At Be, we use the term "access citizen" because that's the accessibility language that we're introducing to the businesses that we work with. But it doesn't mean that we're saying people who have a disability can't tell their own story. But yeah, we really focus on how we tell stories, and typically I'm sure you're all aware the media doesn't necessarily tell stories in a way that we ourselves would want those stories told. And so we do try and shine a light on personal leadership, on unique contribution, on diverse talent. The language we use is really carefully chosen.

So that's another point that I'd make, that when we are telling those stories, be clear about why we're telling them and the language we use. - Great, thank you. All right, so there's a question here that's specifically for Ollie, but I'm sure if other people want to join in they can. "Ollie, what does 'good' look like for you, "particularly with regard to "online communications in messaging?" So for example, websites, apps, more, yeah. - Well, as far as I can't really talk to it's specific guidelines about fonts you should use or anything like that, but, I think something that's simple to read that isn't too confusing, is quite laid out in a logical way, is accessible to the screen reader software and things like that.

And there's something else I was gonna say. Yeah, just being easy to use is the important thing. Another point I was gonna touch on was the digital divide and how that can be a problem. So this push to go online can be really difficult for people who don't have access to technology, or don't have the knowledge or the skills to use the software or the devices.

So that's another challenge and I don't have all the answers unfortunately although I'd love to. - Arash or Hannah, do you have anything for what does 'good' look like? - Very quickly, just resonate with what Ollie says. It should be easy to use, useful.

Do not cut any corners, just something really, really meaningful. Yeah. - [Hannah] I don't have anything to add Sooz, thanks. - Okay, thank you guys.

Okay, next question. Any of the panellists, "what is your favourite example "of a successful piece of accessible communication "that you've seen or been a part of?" Thinking, thinking, thinking. - One of the most beautiful ones that I was being a part of is translating "Very Hungry Caterpillar" actually. So in a whole designing process, we include teachers, We include deaf people, we include sign language experts, and we include children, and they come across with the most brilliant ideas that I as an engineer could not think of.

So yeah, that's something I'm personally really, really proud of. - Ollie or Hannah, have you been part of something or seen something? - I'm actually really struggling to think of something on the spot, sorry. But what I have really enjoyed is being part of a project when we're making information accessible in lots of different formats. That feels to me like we're doing the right thing. So working with, we use connect interpreting to create a video, having an Easyread format, having a Te reo format, having a large print format.

And yeah, that to me feels like we're doing the right thing, but I can't think of anything. I wish I could share some beautiful campaign that I'd seen that I could think of. If I think of something I will email it through to you.

- Yeah, the thing that comes to mind for me was a training that I was part of last year and it used sort of multimedia. The resources were in Easyread. Even for someone who reads a lot, having things in in Easyread was really good.

Just being able to get the main points, it just really helped my comprehension, I guess. And having different ways of getting information across because we're all different, we all learn in different ways. So we had group discussions where we could talk about the information that we had received And we had videos for people who like videos.

And we had some time with our facilitator talking to us. And we had, as I said before, the documents in Easyread. So I thought that was really good having some multiple different methods of getting the information across for people who learn in different ways. - Great. Thank you all. So I think we're getting to the end of our time, but we've still got questions that I can keep going with.

So there's a couple here that I think probably Arash or are aimed at Arash and he would be able to answer. "What is the feedback been regarding Niki? "How do people feel about being communicated "to by a non-human?" And this person's obviously had a look at Niki and says she's quite impressive. There's another question that's a curiosity: "Are there New Zealand Sign Language emojis?" - I'll start with the emojis. There's one very famous one, which is that sign, which is, I love you. So some people are saying that's a rock sign.

So I use it more often and it's more international also, it's also used in ASL. The other question regarding to the feedback of the Niki. So first of all, I wanna emphasise, Niki is not here to replace interpreters. So we believe that the amount of information we produce everyday is that much, human can only answer that, so we are here to fill out the gap. And the feedback that we received was amazing actually. So when we rolled it out to the schools, we figured out the deaf kids really, really interact with the technology far more better than us as an adult, and they come across also with better ideas, such as, hey, we want this game character to sign for us.

We want Mickey Mouse to sign for us. We want Māori gods to sign for us. So the possibilities are huge. - Yeah, it's very exciting. I remember talking to you at one point about that technology and whether we could use it for science communication.

So everyone out there keep an eye out for Niki. She might just translate all of your stories for you. (chuckles softly) Okay, so another question, talking about checklists and tick boxes, and I think we've largely been anti the checklists and tick boxes in this forum. But sometimes they are a good place to start and get started with things.

"Is there a risk of the knowledge of accessibility issues, "by having the checklists and tick boxes, "is there a risk of it being restricted to comms staff "instead of all staff? So how can we make this knowledge available to all staff really I suppose? - I've got something to say but I'm just trying to formulate it in my head. So to me, that speaks of the issue of making accessibility a part of your organisation. It doesn't just belong to the disability leadership guy or the comms team, or it doesn't belong to one person, it belongs to the whole organisation. Accessibility needs to be a part of the culture of the whole organisation and not just seen as the responsibility of one person.

- Thanks Ollie, and excuse me, sorry, I've just had to let my little puppy outside, she was whining in the background. So I've been on mute. Absolutely agree with Ollie. We at Be.Lab, we always say, we want to start with the culture piece with organisations.

Unfortunately, organisations often have a limited budget that they make available and they wanna start with those easy to tick off things. But when we do work with organisations, we do send through those documents to them so that they can give it to all of their staff. The customer service staff, the culture staff, the accessible communications staff.

We want them to be sharing that across their whole team. Absolutely that notion too of accessibility being a tick box thing, it's kind of like diversity and inclusion, and we wanna move away. Puppy is back in the room.

We wanna make sure that actually that diversity and inclusion is really embedded into the culture, that accessibility really is embedded into the culture. It's actually not as expensive as people think but some research we've just done shows that, customer service is the number one factor in creating an accessible experience for people. Obviously you've got to get the physical access right.

But having that welcoming culture, having that welcoming customer service philosophy, having that notion of wanting to make your communications accessible to everyone, that understanding of difference, that valuing of difference, those are so crucial. - Thank you all. And Arash, I'm sure you've probably got something to contribute there, but we have hit our time limit. So thank you all three of you for coming today. (giggles softly) Thanks buddy, I know, it's okay.

(laughs loudly) Thank you all for coming today, and I hope you'll also join us tomorrow for the panel on Emerging Voices in Science Communication, where we've got three fabulous early career science communicators who are gonna talk to you about their journey into the field. So thank you again, Arash, Hannah and especially Ollie for jumping in there at last minute. And we've got some messages coming in saying Kia ora, thank you very much, this was a great session, really enjoyable. So, thank you all. And we'll talk to you all again, next time, Mā te wā, thank you.

2022-12-11 17:06

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