Why is talking about accessibility at events so important? In the United States, 61 million adults have some kind of disability. This data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) did grab your attention for a reason: the number equals around 26% of the country’s entire adult population. More and more, discussions regarding accessibility and inclusion have been challenging people to reflect upon how to create a society and spaces in which the most different audiences feel welcomed and respected.
That is where accessibility at events takes on an extremely important role, because it has the purpose of contributing for the event to be a success and for the participants to have an amazing experience.
With that in mind, we came up with a special list to make your event accessible and to make the participants feel much more confident about enjoying everything from start to finish. After all, following inclusion rules demonstrates your company’s credibility and concern to treat all participants equally.
Check out our tips!
Before making any decisions, it is important to take some time to answer any questions you may have regarding your event’s participants. The first thing you must understand are the right nomenclatures and how to correctly refer to your public.
The term “person with disability” refers to disabilities such as visual, hearing, cognitive or physical. Now when you say “person with reduced mobility”, you mean people who are pregnant, obese or the elderly.
Knowing this is the map you need to start your planning – and we will talk about it now, down here.
A good planning is able to give you the event’s dimension – be it big or small – and it can soften the risks and setbacks that can appear during the organization, the day of the event, or after it.
It is designed for you to not forget any important details. Beyond defining strategies, planning will ease the event planner’s work and elevate the activities’ efficiency.
To help visualize all the information, a good tip is to create a spreadsheet or document, that can be made on Excel or Google Drive. In it, you must clarify all of your actions, deadlines and name the ones responsible for achieving the goals. Oh, and feel free to update your planning daily, after all it is your guide throughout the entire event!
To make your life even easier, we highlighted some aspects that deserve special attention when it is time to start planning.
Make sure that the space is roomy. The entrance and exit must be well distributed, with ramps and handrails that facilitate the access. If your space is not designed to welcome this public, you can opt for renting mobile equipment, such as special chairs. Besides, it is important to remember that the space must be prepared to receive guide dogs for people with visual disabilities.
For communicating, the secret is to not rely on a single tool. Invest in materials in braille for disclosing the location and schedule. A map of the venue with the same principle of tactile writing is also welcomed.
For social media, use an inclusive and simple language. This way, the content becomes accessible for people with cognitive disabilities, and this public will interact more with your contents.
Without an adequate transportation method, your guests will not be able to have a smooth arrival at the event. This can cause trouble even to your schedule, that can be delayed and lower the participant’s expectation.
Therefore, it is important to verify if the event’s venue is accessible by public transportation and that it is prepared to welcome people with disabilities with the proper confort.
After checking all of that, it is time to plan your event’s activities that – believe us – it will not be a complicated task, since you have organized everything from the beginning. Here is a useful tip: always think about the participants’ experience. That is what will remain in your audience’s mind after the event is over.
For that, organize your schedule thinking about accessible activities. You can offer musical and cultural workshops, focused on people with disabilities, or even have some bilingual books available (in English and Sign Language). They can be translated by adding videos of the content in ASL (American Sign Language) on each page, that can be accessed with tablets or smartphones.
Beyond the choice of a good space to properly accommodate the guests, we cannot forget about the external areas. Accessibility at events must exist from the parking spaces, that must be well signaled and located close to the entrance, all the way to the bathrooms, that must be adapted for children or people with dwarfism, wheelchair users and the elderly.
Remember: wheelchair users need a free space of about 31 inches to allow for the wheelchair to be turned. It is good to label the doors in braille, close to the door knob, to give users autonomy, indicating the women’s and men’s bathrooms.
Lastly, accessibility at events also involves the guests’ food. It is not only a matter of prices, but also about product variety. Prefer lighter foods, with less sugar and fat concentration, aside from vegan or vegetarian options, to attend to who has that kind of diet.
Hiring capable people to deal with differences is a good way to ease communication inside the event.
Guides and interpreters are the interface of accessible events. They can interact with the guests to facilitate, include and improve the participants’ experience. Having ASL interpreters, for example, is super important for deaf participants to understand all the information and be able to have their questions answered without any trouble.
Another way to help the team is to have informative flyers available, with recommendations about the venue, times and accessible locations in the space they are in. This can (and must) become a part of your events’ planning policies.
Did you know that signs are one of the most direct ways of providing a service? Through it it is possible to understand where we are, where we are going, and any changes that will happen. It is an indispensable information source at any type of event, and to make it super accessible is really simple. Choose signs and posters with readable size letters, with the braille description always in mind, that must be on handrails, next to the doors and exits.
Depending on the size of your event, use speakers scattered throughout the location, so that warnings about the schedule, or even about some car that is getting in people’s way at the parking lot, are received by the guests quickly and directly. Another tip is to apply tactile flooring in the potential path that will be made by people with visual disabilities. This will give them a lot of autonomy and the experience at the event will be really good – you can trust us!
Aside from having prepared professionals available, and a space that offers the proper infrastructure, the way you communicate will make people feel comfortable and stimulated to participate in the event.
When it comes to accessibility at events, a planning solution is to use online platforms that allow the creation of accessible websites in only a few minutes.
If accessibility is already present in the early stages, your event will achieve much more than planned. It will attract, respect and welcome people with disabilities, and that is a huge success!