The often-daunting task of visiting a new venue for the first time has been made easier for people with a disability, with the release of detailed written guides for two major City of Whittlesea venues.
Council has engaged Access Ability Australia (AAA) to produce two Access Keys, for Meadowglen International Athletics Stadium and the All Abilities Playspace in Mill Park, with another being prepared for Mill Park Leisure.
The keys, which are free to download, are customised, full-colour documents which contain supportive text, maps and sensory guides, and cover prediction, orientation, structure, sensory integration and accessibility and safety features.
Administrator Peita Duncan said the keys would allow visitors to familiarise themselves with the athletics stadium and playground before a visit and were a useful tool for anyone using local facilities, including parents and seniors.
“Reading Access Keys before a visit allows users to navigate themselves around venues with clear instructions on where things such as toilets or change tables are located,” Ms Duncan said.
“This initiative helps to make sure the community is a welcoming place for everyone.”
The Access Keys are also accompanied by Social Stories, which have been developed for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, specific language disorders, social communication difficulties and cognitive delays and disability.
The Meadowglen Social Story is based on a school athletics carnival, and is designed to help prepare individuals for social interaction by providing clear information about specific social situations, outlining why they happen and what typical responses might be.
AAA co-founders Judy O’Connor and Maxine Parker created Access Keys after discovering a void while working in the education sector with children with a disability.
“Every time we would prepare our students to go somewhere new or unfamiliar, we found there weren't resources available at our fingertips,” Mrs Parker said.
She said Access Keys gave users the “gift of time and the gift of confidence”.
PE teacher Hayley Northridge, from Bundoora’s Concord School, said the Access Key would allow students and teachers to plan ahead before visiting Meadowglen for an athletics carnival.
“The Access Key contains a lot of useful information that is very informative for both staff and students,” Ms Northridge said.
For more information and to download the Access Keys, visit www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/accesskeys