Tip Sheet Series: Designing Accessible Events

Author: Center on Victimization and Safety at the Vera Institute of Justice
Publication Date: 2014 - On-Going

The Designing Accessible Events Tip Sheet Series was created to help organizations plan events that are accessible to people with disabilities and Deaf individuals. The series contains tip sheets on key aspects of event planning from budgeting to registration to meeting set-up. Each tip sheet provides user-friendly information on access considerations, practical tips to maximize access, and resources for more information.

Budgeting for Access Tip Sheet

When planning events there are accommodations necessary to ensure that attendees with disabilities and Deaf attendees have complete access to the venue and the event’s presentations and materials. Although many modifications and accommodations have little-to-no cost, some accommodations do. This tip sheet provides you with information on common access features and cost estimates so you can incorporate those considerations into funding proposals and budgets for your events.

Selecting An Accessible Venue Tip Sheet

One of the first decision in event-planning is location. Selecting both a city and a venue requires a number of considerations: Will it be relatively easy and inexpensive for participants to travel to the area? Are there venues that are willing to work within your budget? Does the venue have the type and size of meeting space needed? It’s critical that meeting planners consider the possible access needs of participants with disabilities and Deaf attendees. If the location of the event is inaccessible, then the event itself cannot be made accessible. The tip sheet outlines a process for finding and selecting an accessible venue.

Registration Tip Sheet

Registration is a critical part of any successful event, as it allows you to collect important information from the people who will be attending your event. The registration tip sheet covers what questions you should ask about lodging, meals, interpreting, personal care attendants, and other accommodation needs. The tip sheet includes sample questions and additional resources to ensure your registration process assists you in maximizing access for people with disabilities attending your event.

Creating An Accessible Meeting Environment Tip Sheet

The environment you create for an event sets the tone for participants’ overall experience. Event planners help set this tone by determining the set-up of meeting rooms, the look and placement of signage, and they types of materials to provide. When designing an accessible and inclusive meeting environment for people with disabilities and Deaf people, it’s important to think about their experience so they will be able to fully engage in and benefit from the meeting content. This tip sheet addresses the key considerations for a welcoming environment, such as signage, on-site registration, materials, meals and refreshments, room set-up, and meeting agenda and activities.

Sign Language Interpreters Tip Sheet

Communication access is essential to any event, but especially those with Deaf or hard of hearing participants. Most events with Deaf or hard of hearing participants achieve effective communication through the help of qualified sign language interpreters. Choosing qualified interpreters— who are able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, and who are familiar with the content and terminology of your event—helps the event’s host meet the legal requirement for accessibility. It also allows everyone—Deaf and hearing participants, presenters, and staff— to communicate and engage with one another fully and, ultimately, to contribute to and learn from the experience. This tip sheet provides information to help you meet your legal obligations for communication access and to create an inclusive and equitable experience for Deaf participants.

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