Use space to open navigation items
Wollongong City Council

Attitudes and Awareness

Staff and volunteers have a key role in making events and activities accessible and inclusive. Low levels of disability awareness and negative perceptions of disability are one of the biggest barriers to participation.

Having an awareness of disability will help event organisers, staff, contractors and volunteers to better plan and support participation.

It is important to make people feel welcome. In most instances, respectful communication and disability awareness will help overcome barriers.

Minimum requirements

All staff, volunteers, and contractors (such as security, food vendors) involved in planning and running an event should be made aware of the things you have in place to support accessibility.

This should include:

  • Appropriate language and tips for communicating with people with disability
  • Locations of accessible features including paths of travel, toilets, viewing areas, ramps, exits, lifts, and other features
  • Availability of captioning, audio description and / or assistive listening technology such as hearing loops
  • Information about the accessible and inaccessible features of the event activities
  • Emergency evacuation procedures for everyone, including people with disability
  • Understanding and awareness of assistance and companion animals, and provisions available to support the animals such as water and toileting facilities.

More ways to improve attitudes and awareness

  • Provide staff with disability awareness training
  • Provide contact details of dedicated access officers or staff with specialist knowledge.

It is unlikely two people will have the same needs, expectations, experiences, or aspirations.

Being flexible, respectful, and asking people if and how you can help will assist in providing quality service.

Often, we hear feedback from people with disability at training and activities suggesting the community ‘embrace the awkward’ and ask how you can assist.

Every person with disability is an individual with their own access needs, likes and dislikes.

Effective communication is key to providing a positive event experience for people with access needs. Here are some tips to assist event organisers, staff, and volunteers.


  • Focus on the person, not their disability. Always address the person directly, not the other people who may be with them (such as a sign language interpreter or assistant).
  • Ask the person if they want assistance, do not assume they need it.

For a person using a wheelchair:

  • If you are having a conversation that will last more than a few moments, bend to eye level or pull up a chair.

For a person who may have a learning difficulty, an intellectual disability, dementia, or brain injury:

  • Address the person directly, listen carefully, speak clearly, and check for understanding.
  • Use plain language without being patronising.
  • Allow the person time to ask questions and try not to rush them.
  • Try not to overload the person with information. Make it clear you are there to help if they forget the information.

For a person who is Deaf or hard of hearing:

  • Always face the person so they can read your lips. Try to make sure there are no bright lights behind you that may limit their ability to see your lips.
  • Use your normal tone of voice and volume. If possible, move out of areas with lots of background noise.
  • If a person who is Deaf is there with an Auslan interpreter, always address your comments directly to the person who is Deaf rather than to the interpreter.
  • Have a pen and paper on hand to help communicate with the person if necessary.

For a person with low vision or who is blind:

  • Identify yourself by name. If appropriate, ask for their name so you can address them directly, so they know you are talking to them and not someone else.
  • If a person who is blind asks for assistance to go somewhere, ask which side you should be on and offer your arm so they can hold it just above your elbow.
  • Never pat or distract a guide dog or offer it food while it is in harness. The dog is a working animal under the control of its owner. For more information about what to consider visit the Guide Dogs NSW / ACT website.