What Does It Mean to be Part of the Experience Network?

Alyson joined the Experience Network in September 2021 and has been involved in training and project delivery. Here, she tells us about her experience of working with Apt and being a member of the Experience Network.

I am a Theatre Practitioner specialising in creating drama which is fully accessible for blind and Visually Impaired audiences and performers. This includes finding creative ways to place Audio Description and other sound clues into the narrative of a text to help convey visual information. I have worked as a director in adaptations of classic texts and new writing, being supported financially by Creative Scotland and National Theatre Scotland. I have also delivered advice as an Audio Description and Accessibility Consultant to theatre companies such as Birds of Paradise Theatre Company and Cutting Edge Theatre on various productions.

I have been a member of Apt since September 2021, when I was recruited by a fellow member of the Experience Network to become involved with the PSP by sharing my experiences. I was greatly excited by the opportunity, as I wished to make connections with other disabled people, and to gain a broader understanding of access in the workplace beyond my personal understanding which was specifically related to the theatre and Audio Description. Being involved with Apt has exceeded my expectations in this regard, as I have been able to connect with people who’s access needs and experiences in employment have been very different to my own. In many ways, I feel I have been very fortunate working within the Creative Industry, whom I found to be generally very progressive in their attitudes to employing people who are disabled or come from other marginalised or underrepresented backgrounds. My work with the Apt PSP has shown me that this is not always the case, so I should not take my own comparatively easy experiences for granted.

I have particularly benefited from being involved in the Training for Trainers and Digital Recruitment Reviews, both of which have been opportunities provided by the Apt PSP as they have enabled me to think more broadly about what access means, and allowed me to interrogate the practices of employers when investigating potential employment opportunities for myself and others. I have also enjoyed collaborating with Dr Danielle Farrell from Your Options Understood on conducting Employer Assessments for Edinburgh Playhouse and Children in Scotland. It has been particularly interesting analysing a theatre in connection with the more practical side of business besides the more creative aspects of theatre which I was more familiar with before joining the APT PSP.

I would advise anyone who has an interest in making things more equal for disabled people in employment to join Apt, as it is a great opportunity to connect with other disabled and non-disabled people who wish to make a difference and give something back to the wider disabled community. I would also highly recommend involvement with Apt to any employers who may wish to become more inclusive, as it is a great educative tool, and allows people to move beyond possible unconscious misconceptions or stereotypes about disabled people or their possible access needs in the world of employment, and to actively move towards a more progressive future.

Alyson Woodhouse, Experience Network Consultant.

Find out more about the Experience Network.