4-minute read

You’ve probably heard or know the term accessibility.

But have you heard about universal design and why it’s good for you, your team and people with disability?

Universal design is when you make a deliberate effort to design something that every person in your team can use.

As a people manager, you can use universal design in many day-to-day tasks, such as when you:

  • have a meeting
  • send an email
  • run an event
  • speak with a team member
  • write a report

Here’s our list of things you can do to apply universal design in how you manage your team’s wellbeing.

They’re quick to do and easy to put in place.

Have an agenda

An agenda keeps meetings on track and shows respect for peoples’ time.

If you’ve got a 1-on-1 or informal meeting, an agenda can be as simple as a few dot points on what you want to discuss in an email.

If you’ve got a complex meeting, an agenda can make an unwieldy amount of information easier to process.

An agenda is helpful for:

  • before your meeting, so everyone knows what you want to speak about and why
  • before your meeting, so people with anxiety disorders and vision impairment can feel prepared and understand what’s going to happen
  • during the meeting, so anyone who uses structure to process information can follow along with ease
  • after the meeting, so you can go over what was agreed to and write these under your agenda sections
  • after the meeting, so people who experience issues with memory know they have a document to refer to

An agenda is also great for some people with autism.

As some people with autism don’t like unexpected change, an agenda helps minimise unexpected discussions or changes to the meeting’s purpose.

Cut down on attachments

Try to write up as much as you can directly into the body of the email instead of attaching things.

With headings and dot points, you can cover off a lot of info and no one needs to download or open anything.

Cutting down on attachments is helpful for:

  • people who use a mobile device
  • people who are time poor
  • people who have limited internet bandwidth
  • people who use assistive technology, since in-body content is easier to navigate than multiple attachments across different file formats and formatting

Ask if anyone needs you to turn on your camera

There are always going to be times when you can’t turn your camera on, maybe from poor internet or technical glitches.

But at all the other times, ask if anyone in the meeting needs you to turn your camera on.

Some people may not feel comfortable having it on, but using your camera is helpful for:

  • people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or who lip read
  • some people with autism, who may need to see facial expressions
  • people who process information better while making eye contact
  • building or showing empathy towards others

Use the accessibility checker

In the Victorian public sector, many of us use the Microsoft Office suite daily.

But how often do you use the Microsoft accessibility checker?

It will highlight common accessibility mistakes and tell you how to fix them in Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Most of the time, the suggestions will not only improve the document for people with disability but make it better for everyone.

Some things it will pick up are:

  • colour contrast problems
  • merged cells
  • missing descriptions for images
  • reading order issues

Create or turn on captions for videos

If you’re making a video, create captions to go with it.

If you’re showing a video to others, turn on the captions even if you think nobody needs them.

Captions are helpful for:

  • people who are hearing impaired, Deaf or hard of hearing
  • people who may not process auditory information as quickly as others
  • people who struggle to understand certain accents
  • people with English as a second language

Using captions means you’re increasing the likelihood of people remembering the information in the video.

Who we consulted with

We consulted with staff networks to check the language in this tool is appropriate and respectful.

For this tool, we consulted with: