Youth services are vital to support and develop young people with disability, connecting them with their communities, coordinating age-appropriate activities and providing tailored supports relevant to their life stage.
Services in NSW strive to be accessible for all young people. However, many services operate in sites where the accessibility needs for people with disability may not have been considered in the establishment and planning of community services and supports, resulting in a range of barriers, including:
- Inaccessible premises (e.g., stairs, narrow corridors, poor lighting, problematic arrangement of furniture, services provided only at a physically inaccessible locale etc.).
- Inaccessible information (e.g. websites that cannot be accessed via screen reader, lack of Easy English information, or procedures reliant on text-heavy information sheets).
- Staff who may not feel confident supporting young people with disability (e.g. staff may be unsure how to best support, or interact with young people with disability, or link them into services and supports).
- Policies and procedures that create barriers for people with disability to engage with a service (e.g. no reasonable adjustment policy or practice, processes that are not available in multiple formats, such as Easy English versions or, verbal intake processes).
Additionally, young people with disability may incur many other barriers to inclusion within the community such as:
- Lack of accessible information available to young people with disability regarding topics relevant to their age.
- Inadequate housing options that suit each individual’s needs and supports, and are cost effective.
- Limited options for employment opportunities or the ability to access further education and study.
- Barriers to using accessible public transport, including the costs associated with using transport services.
Endeavouring to support young people with disability overcome these barriers, this project hopes to increase the accessibility of youth services, and provide relevant resources to support both young people with disability, youth workers, and organisations.