Members of the Australia Awards teams from South and West Asia, Myanmar and Mongolia recently attended tailored online ‘Disability Awareness Training’ delivered by Scope Global’s in-house access and inclusion service, Maven.
The interactive online training combined theory with insights from the facilitators, Maven advisors Zel Iscel and Charles Brice, who are experts in the human rights approach to disability and have skills in accessible communications, inclusive events and forecasting reasonable adjustments. Zel and Charles also both brought their lived experience of disability to the training.
Twenty-four participants from across the Australia Awards programs managed by Scope Global attended the training. The participants represented seven countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Australia Awards is committed to ensuring equal access to opportunities and has gender equality and social inclusion initiatives tailored and contextualised for each participating country in South Asia. The Maven training acted to refresh and reinforce the Australia Award team members’ pre-existing knowledge and skills in disability access and inclusion.
An important aspect of Maven disability awareness training is considering cultural sensitivity and building on participants’ baseline levels of knowledge and skills. The Australia Awards internal working group for Gender Equality, Diversity and Social Inclusion provided insights into the type of content that would be of most benefit to the broader participant group. This was combined with the participants’ responses to a pre-training questionnaire to inform the training design.
Prior to taking part in the training, some participants felt that they had the theoretical knowledge but would benefit from additional practical experience and exposure to the latest best practices. As shared by one participant, “having had training and exposure with disability awareness, I would rate myself as having a more than fair knowledge. However, in an advancing world, I believe there are still new aspects of awareness that I haven’t been exposed to.”
The training package was tailored to the participants’ contexts, including examples of how disability is perceived in the different countries that were represented. Key themes of the training included disability language, creating accessible and inclusive events, and producing accessible digital content. The participants also learned about the intersectionality that exists in the disability community through recognising that people with disability may also belong to other marginalised groups.
The value of the training was evident in a post-training survey. Participants rated the sessions on ‘communicating and interacting with people with disability’ and ‘disability definitions and models’ as most valuable.
Participants also said that the training further strengthened their understanding of acceptable terminology and language to use in relation to disability. Many participants mentioned that learning how to use the theory from the training to practically inform program design was useful, and they were now more confident about the accessibility requirements for online platforms. One participant expressed that “society makes disability a problem by imposing barriers, (physical, communication, attitudinal and systemic), it is the barriers that need to be addressed – not the disability.”
All the participants felt that online training was an effective tool for learning, and most thought that virtual delivery worked well. Participants commented that they enjoyed learning online and that the technology facilitated the interactive style of learning. “The training itself was very inclusive in its needs assessment and delivery,” mentioned a participant.
After completing the training, participants said they felt that their skills and knowledge had increased, particularly in considering the unique and individual aspects of each person with disability. One participant commented that “This training has raised my confidence” and “the training was useful and very appropriate … and I believe I have been better equipped for my work.”
Following the training, the participants received a Maven e-learning package including a copy of the training presentations, fact sheets on all the training themes and a certificate of participation.
Scope Global manages Australia Awards in Mongolia, Myanmar and South Asia on behalf of the Australian Government.
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