|Issue No 87||10 March 2001|
New Precedent for Workers with Print Disabilities
By Sondra Wibberley
A new enterprise bargaining agreement struck at Macquarie University and certified by the AIRC provides a first for workers with a print disability.
Tucked away in the document is a significant clause which will benefit this small but important section of the University's workforce. It also has the potential to benefit similar employees in other workplaces.
The CPSU/PSA was successful in negotiating a clause allowing for the Agreement to be made available to staff members via the Internet or in printed form or "for a staff member who has a print disability, in a form suitable to their needs."
According to the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities, a person has a print disability if they cannot independently obtain access to information in a standard print form. This could be because they are blind or vision impaired, have physical disability limiting their ability to hold or manipulate information in print form, or they have a perceptual disability leading to difficulty in following a line of print.
In practical terms the provision means a staff member who has an identified print disability may request a copy of the Agreement in a format which takes their disability into account. This may take the form of braille, large print, accessible electronic form, or audio tape.
Containing this provision in a certified Agreement also means that if the request is refused the University can be taken to the AIRC. The staff member could also make a complaint under NSW or Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination laws.
As well as assisting staff at Macquarie University, the provision will act as a precedent for advocating for a similar entitlement in other workplaces
The inclusion of this provision is believed to be a first in an industrial agreement in Australia.
The persistence of a University delegate with a severe vision impairment, who served as a member of the Union's Bargaining Team, and the strong support of the CPSU/PSA lead to the positive result.
The outcome highlights the importance of workers with disabilities becoming involved in the activities of their union.
This win should encourage other employees with vision or other disabilities to request employment-related information in a format which accommodates their disability, a provision which is now an industrial right.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005