Planning Accessible Events

While the format of events has changed repeatedly, one thing has remained the same… accessibility is a top priority for all events and should be considered at every step in planning.

When we look at accessibility as removing barriers for all people, we realize the concept of accessibility doesn’t just apply to the ‘physical’ (i.e. physical barriers or physical disabilities). There are often invisible barriers that should be considered as well.

Let’s look at some examples of possible barriers…

Visual Impairments:

A person may have low vision or blindness and need:

  • To be seated near to the large screen or may need a printed copy of presentations to follow along with.
  • To increase the text size in their browser.
  • To utilize a screen reader.

Auditory Impairments:

A person may have partial or total hearing loss and may need: 

  • To be seated closer to the speaker and/or have a way to stream the presentation into an earpiece.
  • To be within viewing distance of screens, displaying closed captions.
  • To be within viewing distance of an interpreter who is signing the program.

Motor/Speech Impairments:

A person may have mild, moderate or severe motor impairment and my need:

  • Accessible seating.
  • Accessible programming that allows them to use their own devices without judgment (for example: augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices).
  • Support in navigating any written components.
  • Support in using technology (for example, an iPad that requires finger control).

Cognitive Impairments:

A person may have mild, moderate or severe impairments and may benefit from:

  • Knowing the itinerary of the event prior to its start.
  • Having a written or digital copy of the program (based on personal preference) provided to them. 
  • Speakers and Emcee speaking in clear and concise language, avoiding euphemisms, if possible.
  • Being seated closer to the speaker so there are less distractions in their sight line.

Seizure Disorders:

A person may have light sensitivities that could trigger seizures, it is important to be mindful of this and include any trigger warnings, if applicable.

Sensory Disorders:

A person may have sensitivities to bright lights, certain sounds and/or room volume, and general busyness. They may benefit from:

  • Knowing what to expect prior to arrival. This could include a list of entertainment so they are able to prepare.
  • Having a quiet space to retreat to as necessary. 
  • Being seated on the perimeter of the room, to avoid the chaos of the center of the room. 

Mental Health Considerations:

A person may find it triggering to be put on the spot to answer a question, share their screen, or engage in networking activities. They may benefit from having:

  • The option to participate or not participate in networking.
  • The option to have their camera off, if attending a virtual event.
  • Knowing the agenda and attendee expectations prior to the event.

Persons with Service Animals 

A person may require a service animal or therapy animal to be present with them at your event. It is important to consider what this animal may need as well:

  • Access to water and an outdoor space for using the bathroom.
  • Enough space to lay or sit down next to their person.

*It is important to note that in our province of Alberta, there are protections in place for service animals and they may not be refused entry into any facility or event. However, there are no protections for therapy animals and they are considered to have the same entry rights as pets.   

Financial Constraints

A person may have financial or budget constraints that do not allow them to attend certain events. They may benefit from:

  • Having access to an early bird discounted rate.
  • A lower cost virtual ticket.
  • A sponsored ticket where another attendee covers the cost of an additional ticket for someone who would be otherwise unable to attend.

Because of these many factors, it’s important to be as forthcoming as possible with the event format and details so that the attendees know what to expect and are able to plan accordingly and reach out if they require assistance.

– Your Tycoon, Lindsay XO

In case you missed it, find our guide to 2SLGBTQI+ inclusivity in 2023 here.