Communication

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A man sitting on the ground showing a poster with DRR information for a group of women with children and a man sitting on a chair with a crutch resting on his legs
© Julie Smith

Means of communication need to be adapted so that entire communities, including persons with disabilities can receive, understand and act upon important information.

Always remember to use positive language on gender, disability and minority groups when making campaigns, providing information, in meetings, when making advertisements, or designing promotional materials.

General tips on inclusive communication

  • Use simple and clear speech and body language and gestures that support the spoken word

  • Use a variety of communication tools, which support the understanding of the message: drawing, pictures, gestures, theatre or role plays

  • Talk to children, persons with disabilities or older persons directly, and not to their assistants or caregivers for those who use this support.

  • Create opportunities, relationships and environments through your work, that make individuals want to communicate.

Specific arrangements depending on the type of difficulty people face:

  • Provide sign language interpretation or communicate using pen and paper for deaf persons;

  • When communicating with persons with a mental health condition or in distress, be mindful of body language, communicate clearly but softly. Use an unthreatening tone and volume and actively listen, as the person could be experiencing trauma and related symptoms;

  • Read out written material for people with difficulties reading or who are blind;

  • Use images and drawings to visualize information.

  • Use interactive approaches for those with profound learning disabilities and communication needs.

Specific communication in case of a disaster: 

  • Inform persons with disabilities or older persons who cannot leave their homes via home visits, using trained volunteers, including persons with disabilities, or coordinate with organisations of persons with disabilities or other Community Based Organisations;

  • If using a megaphone or loudspeaker, be aware that not everyone will hear or understand the message. Use short and clear messages, for example: "EVACUATION! Go out the rear door on your right. NOW. Meet outside on the front lawn";

  • Take advantage of a good communication with people during home visits and information meetings, to ask them about the obstacles they may face in accessing relief and their suggestions for improvement. 

  • Bring a list with specific organisations which specialize in providing services for persons with disabilities, older people or other marginalized groups.  

  • An age and disability focal point, which serves as an information, meeting and referral point, could be set-up in temporary settlements, camps or collective centres, with designated staff or volunteers. The focal point would make the link between people and specific services required, such as assistive devices, rehabilitation or mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for example, and could also address other groups at risk, such as older people (age and disability focal points).

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