Is your school’s communication strategy inclusive? And what does that actually mean for schools? It means that information coming home from school is easy to find, easy to understand and easy to use. While this is a valuable mantra to keep schools on track when it comes to communicating with their audience, it’s also worth zooming out to think about what accessible communication looks like for those who speak a language other than English or people with physical or cognitive disabilities. Not only is it important to ensure you’re including your community so they can participate in school life, but it’s also required under the guidelines for each State and Territory.
It’s easy for schools to be inclusive with the right communication tool.
Ticking all the boxes when it comes to delivering inclusive, accessible communication may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right tool (Spoiler: it’s School Stream!), it’s simple for schools to make sure they are checking all the boxes for everyone. This week we are exploring barriers to communication and going beyond legislative compliance to explore why it’s important no one is left behind when it comes to school communication.
We put inclusive communication at the centre of everything we do. Speak to our Australian-based support team to learn more about how School Stream makes it easy to reach everyone in your community.
How does an inclusive communication plan help school administrators and principals?
We are all well-versed in why an inclusive communication plan is important for students, but it’s worth noting that a solid comms protocol can be very helpful for administrators too. Take this testimony from a school in Auckland:
“Traffic through the office has significantly reduced. If the office gets a couple of calls with the same enquiry, the office staff will send out an alert via School Stream to keep the parents informed and we find this stops further disruption to the administration team.”
Think about how much time you spend chasing parents, photocopying, collating, sending two to three texts to communicate one thing in limited characters, and managing emails that bounce back no matter how many times you remind parents to update their details. Now imagine how much time you could save if you could send it once via an app that parents actually use (it’s School Stream!).
An inclusive communication plan is a win-win for everyone.
Shameless promotion aside, we know the constant phone calls to answer questions from harried parents who have lost the newsletter or email can send administrators spare when they have such a long to-do list. Administrators tend to be great communicators by nature and do a superb job at getting information out to their parent community, but the reality is that parents need everything to be easy to find and easy to access. And ideally, they want it delivered to the palm of their hand via a dedicated portal or app.
“I want the information to be able to be really easy to access. I can’t stress this enough: Really accessible. If there’s an app, I want that to be easy to navigate. Ideally, I want the information sent out to me with notifications, so I know there is new information loaded.”
A note on why a good translation feature is a non-negotiable
Australia is lucky to be one of the world’s richest when it comes to linguistic diversity. The 2021 Australian Census had a lot to say about language but, for our purposes, the two key statistics worth exploring from the survey of more than 25,000,000 people are:
- There are over 300 identified languages spoken in Australia.
- 22.3% of Australians spoke a language other than English at home.
These statistics represent a significant portion of the population and demonstrate how important it is for modern organisations to adapt and acknowledge the varying needs of their community, especially those who don’t speak English as their first language but are desperate to be involved in their child’s education. Language can be a tricky issue for schools to identify but is, thankfully, easy to address.
“Sadly, we didn’t realise until we’d set up School Stream and Brad (School Stream’s Operations Manager) informed us that there was a feature for families so they could have everything we sent translated into Portuguese. We communicated that to the Brazilian families, and it wasn’t until then that they came to us and let us know that they couldn’t understand anything before…it didn’t come to our attention until we fixed the issue – an issue we didn’t even realise we had! (Read the full case study on our website.)
School communication accessibility for all (Everything else)
As per the guidelines in States and Territories, inclusive communication means that schools need to provide equal access to information for everyone, with special consideration for those with a disability, those with literacy challenges, people accessing tech via tablets, and those reliant on translation software. The NSW Department of Education goes as far as to include “time-poor users who just need an answer to their question” as part of their criteria which, to be fair, feels like all of us these days. It’s also common sense.
To ensure your school is meeting the guidelines published by Government and to communicate easily with your school community, any app worth its salt should include:
- A translation feature with a wide variety of community languages.
- Tap-to-Speak mode for those with vision impairment or experience literacy challenges.
- Dark mode to support people who experience vision impairment.
- The capacity to enlarge the font size for parents/caregivers.
- Accessible by parents/caregivers on a laptop, desktop or tablet, as well as phones.
- Free messaging for families – even if they have a PAYG phone with a zero balance.
Are you looking for a seamless solution for inclusive communication? We can help.