A project to develop a guide to make literature events accessible for disabled people has reached its target budget of £18,574 to carry out the research and development phase, after receiving support from Penguin Random House, Hachette, Fane, the National Centre for Writing, Literature Alliance Scotland, Publishing Scotland, Scottish Book Trust, Write Mentor and Edinburgh City of Literature, following an initial contribution of £4000 from the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
The Inklusion guide was conceived by disabled writers, Julie Farrell and Ever Dundas after they became frustrated by the litany of excuses about why literature events couldn’t be made accessible. They want to create an easy-to-use, best-practice guide for event organisers and individuals, to ensure consistent and reliable access in the industry.
Covering accessibility for both invited speakers and audience members, the Inklusion guide will outline best-practice access for book launches, festival events, conferences, panels, workshops, fellowships, to residencies. It will include information on running in-person, online, and hybrid events. The guide will be available free as an accessible PDF, as a web page on the Inklusion site, and a printed booklet which will be distributed to organisations across the UK.
Julie and Ever hope the guide will take the onus and emotional labour off disabled individuals to educate events providers and publishers. The pair are now embarking upon a 5-month research and development phase where they will collaborate with university researchers in the industry, interview disabled authors about their experiences, and discuss challenges faced by events organisers in order to inform the guide.
Commenting on the funding and appeal, Julie Farrell said:
‘This funding allows us to create the content for this much-needed resource which the industry has really got behind and we can’t wait to get started on bringing the Inklusion guide to life. The support from the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Penguin Random House, Hachette and others has been incredible, as has the ongoing support we’ve had from world-famous authors like Val McDermid, Kit de Waal, Frances Ryan and Helen Sedgwick.’
‘The pandemic has seen a rapid increase in access and inclusion in the arts all over the world, and for the first-time disabled people are feeling included where they didn’t before. For so long we were told access was ‘too complicated’ or that organisers didn’t have resources, or it was ‘logistically challenging’. The pandemic has proven this is not the case – and we’re not going back to our old ways.’
Also commenting, Ever Dundas said:
‘I’m thrilled we’ve reached our funding goal. It’s been a real joy seeing the amount of support for the work we’re doing, and we’re both excited about getting started on the research phase. 1 in 4 of us is disabled, and it’s time we were included. We want to make access in the literature sector consistent, transparent and reliable. And fun! In all our hours consulting with organisations in the sector, the most common response to accessibility was fear of the unknown. We’re here to demystify access provision and instil confidence in every event provider.’
The pair hope to launch the guide at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2022. Anyone interested in helping fund the second phase of the project can do so by emailing email@example.com
Publishing Scotland is one of the supporters and Marion Sinclair, Chief Executive, said: ‘We are supporting the production of the Inklusion guide as a contribution from our sector of the book trade. The publishing industry can and should move towards a change in attitudes and practice to ensure that all audiences have access to the full range of events, platforms, and opportunities offered to promote writers, books and publishers today. This is a very welcome initiative that will open eyes to the impact that can be made by including everyone in the room.’