But way before the launch of the theatre, Aisling always knew they were interested in access consultancy; they just didn’t know how to take the first step into the industry.
After being accepted onto Centre for Accessible Environments’ (CAE) Pathways Academy, Aisling combined their love for theatre with their passion for access and found a new job. They began a role working on the inclusion of deaf and disabled artists in a mainstream theatre in East London.
Pathways was created to give young disabled Londoners the confidence, skills and support they need to kick start a career in inclusive design and access.
First step into access
“I randomly came across the Pathways Academy and thought it was the perfect way to educate myself on the profession I’ve always wanted to be in,” says Aisling.
However, with a newly launched theatre company to look after, Aisling was worried about having to juggle jobs and do the course on top of that.
“It was a lifesaver for me that Pathways Academy was completely virtual as I’m not sure how I would’ve coped otherwise. As it’s an online course, it meant that I could take things at my own pace on the days I had lots of work to do or wasn’t feeling great.”
Making the most of the Academy
When Aisling first started Pathways, they didn’t know what to expect. As the course was only in its first year, there was no telling how effective it would be.
As the weeks went on, Aisling realised that it was exactly what they had been looking for – a course that provides skills in inclusive design and prepares them for a career as a consultant – but they still weren’t sure about how effective the virtual format would be.
“I was anxious about learning via Zoom, but it was better than I expected. I could read the presentations in my own time and if I was ever stuck or confused about something, the trainers were at hand to clarify,” they said.
“I was also worried I’d be underwhelmed by some of the modules I was less interested in, but I learnt that skilled and knowledgeable trainers can make anything interesting.”
Gaining skills for life
And things got even more interesting when, while still training, Aisling was offered a job at a theatre company in East London as an Agent for Change. The role is heavily centred on inclusion for disabled people and ensures that access and inclusion is front and centre at all theatre management meetings.
“Even though access consultancy has been something I’ve been interested in for a long time, it wasn’t until I joined Pathways Academy that I understood the steps I needed to take to do the job well and become an accredited consultant,” Aisling says.
Aisling will complete their East London theatre contract in the next few months and also has ambitions to continue their access training.
“Pathways was a great first step into the inclusive design world, but I’m not naïve enough to think the work stops here. Now I know this is the career I want to be in, I’ll continue to develop my skills and hopefully, in the near future, I can call myself an accredited access consultant.”