Under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy, the department has the role of service provider. The strategy requires the department to have in place a Disability Action Plan which contains measures to eliminate disability discrimination as the department performs that role.
To help ensure people with disabilities had ready access to committee inquiries, Senate lectures and Parliamentary Education Office (PEO) programs, attendees were invited to identify their special needs. Services available for attendees with special needs included special parking arrangements, audio loops and interpreter services. Committee documents (such as reports, submissions and transcripts of hearings) were published in hard copy, on the internet and on CD; large documents published on the internet were split into smaller files to aid downloading and printing.
The PEO adjusted its role-play techniques to meet the needs of students with:
- intellectual disabilities
- colour blindness (by making available handouts on different coloured papers)
- hearing difficulties (by providing them with written scripts and instructions).
To help people with disabilities to access its services, the department also provided:
- a captioning service for the televised proceedings of the Senate chamber, with functions to enable users to change the font size, colour and style of captions
- access to a TTY (teletypewriter) for people with hearing disabilities, and email contact details, internet addresses and details of the TTY service in publicity material
- access to the National Relay Service, which can provide information in a form suitable for converting to teletype
- information technology equipment for special needs, including special mouses, keyboards, flat screen monitors and wrist rests
- information on the internet in formats that facilitate user access and downloading, and layouts and font sizes that assist people with vision impairment
- tools to help people with vision impairment to access PDF documents on the Senate website.
The department’s staff were provided with information on services and equipment available to assist people with disabilities, and ways to obtain that assistance. Senators and their support staff were informed that specialised furniture, equipment and transport were available to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Disability groups were notified of committee inquiries that were directly relevant to their members.