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I started working with Scottish Disability Equality Forum (SDEF) about three years ago. The biggest challenge for me was understanding who our membership was and how best to communicate to them all. The process in place when I started wasn’t wrong at all but I felt it could be simplified, especially with the membership increasing weekly.
Our membership is open to all disabled people, therefore the communication needs varied a lot and this resulted in spending days ensuring each member received exactly the format of information they requested, for example:
This certainly wasn’t wrong and ensured all members received the information they required, however the resources and time putting this together for each member could not be sustained.
I therefore developed a process which has been simplified but ensures all members receive the information they require.
As an example, our magazine ‘Open Door’ is our members printed magazine. Therefore all members receive a copy of this in the post; we now only need to filter those who have specifically requested not to receive paper copies.
I then arrange the following alternative formats:
These are then uploaded to our website and we then send an email to all members with a link to these files and attaching the PDF and Plain Text version only.
Believe it or not this saves a lot more time than individually customising the formats for each member.
To create the Audio MP3 file I discovered a plugin for Microsoft Word called Wordtalk http://www.wordtalk.org.uk/Home/ This is a free Windows text-to-speech plugin and speaks the text of the document and will highlight it as it goes. It was really simple to install and even easier to use. I find the process of creating our information in the above mentioned alternative formats so much easier and quicker.
So far this seems to work and we have not received any negative feedback regarding this, and it ensures access for all our members.
Morven Brooks, SDEF