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Harkin International Disability Employment Summit

Jun, 7th 2022


Riverside exclusivity

Event Overview

In partnership with The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement and the Department for Communities as lead sponsor, ICC Belfast welcomed delegates to positively reframe the narrative on approaching, supporting and enabling persons with disabilities to achieve their career goals and aspirations.

The exciting two-day event focused on content quality and diversity which saw global leaders and activists deliver and share their thoughts on ‘Disability: Shaping, Growing and Driving Economic Change’, in an impressive programme with internationally renowned keynote speakers and content from over 114 speakers, many of whom have mobility or communications requirements.

I would have no reservations in recommending ICC Belfast to any other event organisers, the level of support and attention to detail we have seen with this venue and the team working within it has been truly phenomenal.

Sean Fitzsimons, Disabled Professional and Activist | Harkin Summit Project Lead

Fitzsimons continued, "This for me is the number one place on the island if you want to have a world-class and global conference. For a summit of this scale with so many disabled people, the accessibility features of this building have been a massive selling point and the attitudes of staff have been phenomenal."

The two-day programme offered multiple content items across each time slot, giving delegates a rich choice of options to create their own personalised agenda based on their interests and what they found most relevant. The content, which was categorised under themes including Nurturing the next generation of Disabled Innovators and Say THE word!: Mainstreaming Disability in the Diversity and Inclusion Agenda took place across a variety of accessible locations across the venue and was also live streamed to give delegates based across the globe the chance to participate fully in the Summit.

These included BBC: Reframing disability at the BBC for workforce and content which took place in Hall 1, ICC Belfast’s largest exhibition hall spanning almost 2000m². Mentoring Moments, led by Isabel Heiner, Australian Network On Disability was another notable session took place in one of ICC Belfast’s three meeting rooms, a versatile space with multiple set up options offering event organisers the flexibility of hosting more intimate breakout sessions in parallel with the main keynotes. 

With funding from Belfast City Council we’ve also installed a Changing Place in the Riverside Foyer Area which will remain at ICC after the Harkin Summit, allowing more space and comfort for visitors who require additional support.

Julia Corkey, Chief Executive

To ensure a successful set up and event, ICC Belfast underwent leading transformational change before, during and post Summit to be an accessible diverse and inclusive venue. This included over 80% of staff completing JAM Card training which allows customers to communicate their accessibility needs discreetly, highlighting that they may need a little extra time and patience during their visit. To allow maximum space and comfort for delegates, a Changing Place was also installed by SYNC Living in the Riverside Foyer area of the venue, which includes a peninsular toilet, grab rails and a changing bench for visitors requiring additional support.

A further legacy initiative of Harkin Belfast was the development of a Social Narrative Access Video for delegates. The video, which covers arrival and complete access to the venue was produced by disabled-led arts charity, University of Atypical

Delegates of Harkin Belfast congratulated the venue and organisers on a fantastic programme, template and standard of event for disabled professionals, set out by ICC Belfast.

The standard has been set pretty high by this summit here in Belfast. We’re going to use this as the standard and the mark going forward for making sure that all of our Summits are totally accessible in every way possible and that’s what you have done here.

Senator Tom Harkin, Founder of the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement

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Harkin Belfast photography credits - Brian Thompson Photography. 

At a Glance

Space used Riverside exclusivity
Event days 2
Disabled access entry points 6
In-person delegates 500+
ICC Belfast JAM Card training 80% team members

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