Here at Think HQ we manage a range of events, including breakfasts, conferences and workshops. There is a lot to keep track of when planning and running an event, and something like accessibility can feel intimidating if you don’t have a lived experience of disability.
But don’t worry; we’ve assembled our top tips to help you ensure all your guests have a great experience.
1. Site visits are essential
Many people don’t realise exactly what is required for an accessible event and while venue managers may believe their venue meets all your accessibility requirements, it definitely pays to view the venue in person to assess its suitability.
Only consider venues that allow people to enter, exit and move around the building with ease. Accessible unisex toilets are also essential.
2. Ensure all information provided before, during and after the event is accessible
Collateral such as menus, flyers and signage must meet accessibility requirements. Develop and print in large san serif font and have staff available to direct people to your event space and talk through the menu.
It is also important to consider parking and transport options to your event. Are there accessible parking spaces available and public transport options close by?
Ensure all transport options and instructions for reaching your venue are clearly communicated and you provide a contact number for on the day in case your guests have trouble locating your event venue.
3. Accessing the venue — have multiple entry points, clear signage and staff available
Narrow doors to venues mean those in wheelchairs cannot gain access to your event. Is your venue accessible by ramp, lift and stairs? Multiple entry points will ensure everyone can attend your event.
If guests in wheelchairs need to access your event space by lift, are the lifts large enough for people using wheelchairs to access? Do the buttons have Braille information and is there audio information in the lift available for those whose vision is impaired?
Ensure there are tables and chairs available for those who cannot stand for large periods of time. If tables and chairs are set up, be mindful of those attending your event in wheelchairs and make sure there’s enough space between tables for them to manoeuvre safely.
Offer a selection of crockery and cutlery. What might work well for some, may not for others. For example, have cups, glasses and mugs available for guests to choose from. If the event is self-serve or buffet style, have venue and/or event staff on hand to aid if required and have all food clearly labelled (i.e. gluten free, dairy free).
5. Thoroughly brief venue and event staff
Staff should be available to aid your guests, but only do so if required and don’t assume that just because a person is in a wheelchair (for example) that they need assistance.
Focus on the person and not their disability. Address the person directly and not the other people who may be with them (such as an interpreter or assistant.)
6. Promoting your event
Ensure the event information you are promoting is accessible to everyone. Consider those who may be blind and use a screen reader to access information.
Provide alternative contact details such as an email address and phone number, in case people need to reach you (particularly on the day).