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Assembly gains further recognition for its approach to equality

14/01/2015

The National Assembly for Wales's estate has been awarded the National Autistic Society's Access Award ("The Award"), the first public body in Wales to receive it.

The Award adds to the other accolades the Assembly has received in recognition of its ongoing commitment to equality, which includes the 'Action on Hearing Loss Louder than Words Charter Mark' which demonstrates a commitment to staff and service users who are deaf or have a hearing loss.

The Award is a best practice standard for buildings and facilities, designed to provide assurance to people with autism and their families and carers.  It demonstrates that the facilities are autism-friendly, and that there is a commitment to making sure people with autism can access them.

"This is yet another acknowledgement that the National Assembly takes the issue of equality of access very seriously," said Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler AM.

"For democracy to truly work in Wales, its law-making institution must engage with everyone in Wales, and that means ensuring that our facilities, services and information are accessible to all.

"I would like to thank the Assembly's Equalities team for ensuring that the Assembly continues to show a lead in ensuring this equality of access.

"Our work in this area is not complete, however, and we will continue to search for ways to improve the way that we engage with the people of Wales."

Below are some of the things the Assembly did in order to achieve the accreditation:

  • Created a section on its website dedicated to visitors with autism.  The section provides information links to specifically designed resources in different formats;
  • Established designated quiet areas for people with autism to rest and de-stress;
  • Ensured relevant staff received disability confidence training, which includes a section on autism;
  • Identified 28 Autism Champions from across the organisation, including Security and Front of House, who are currently undergoing training; 
  • Established links with and gathered feedback from NAS local groups; 
  • Created a feedback form, to enable continual feedback from visitors with autism.

Sandy Mewies AM, the Assembly Commissioner with responsibility for equalities issues, added: "The Autism Award demonstrates that the Assembly is committed to being an accessible venue for visitors who are on the autism spectrum."

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society (NAS), said:  "I would like to congratulate the National Assembly for Wales for being the first public estate in Wales to achieve the NAS Autism Access Award.  Staff at the Assembly have shown great commitment to making the Assembly's estate open and accessible to people with autism and their families.  It has been wonderful to see how closely people with autism and the NAS have worked with the Assembly, helping staff become more autism aware and advising them about changes needed within the buildings.

"It is vitally important that people with autism are able to participate fully in civic life and in their communities.  Training and awareness can make a huge difference and I hope that the Assembly's example inspires more public buildings and other organisations in Wales to work with us to become more autism friendly."

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