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How to Make an Event Accessible for All

3rd Dec 17

Temperatures are rising, and the summer event season is upon us. If you’re disabled or physically impaired, you’ll know all-too-well that well planned access and disabled facilities can make or break your event experience. If you’re not… you probably won’t.

Poor access is usually a result of ignorance rather than malice, but is very unwelcoming and in some cases discriminatory, none-the-less. So, read on to learn six ways events can be given an inclusive design that caters to one-and-all.

 

  1. Design an Accessibility Map

If you’re planning an event, accessibility should be a high priority when choosing the venue location. See how potential venues measure up against accessibility criteria to help secure one that’s appealing to a wider audience and will sell more tickets.

During this period, an ‘Accessibility Map’ can be designed, displaying how an event is most easily reached. If your venue can be accessed via three different entries, mark the one with level access on the map. Make sure the accessibility map is easily found on your website and anywhere else it is listed online. The map should be available in different formats to make it as ‘accessible’ as possible: audio, downloadable to print, large text, etc.  

 

  1. Think carefully about the layout

When planning what will go where at an event, it pays to think long and hard about how it will impact people. What good are disabled toilets if they’re at the top of a flight of stairs? What good is a reserved disabled seating if the path to it isn’t wide enough for a wheelchair? And if the area is too far from a stage, vision impaired folk and lipreaders alike will have a hard time interpreting what’s going on. A little common sense goes a long way here.

Food served on tables too high to be reached from a wheelchair or by those short in stature will serve up an awkward plate of embarrassment accompanied by a side of bad press when word of mouth spreads. This can be solved by offering table service (a winner with the mobility impaired) or a dedicated lower table.

 

  1. Create a wheelchair-friendly event

It sounds obvious, but let’s not overthink things here – if the event space is not wheelchair-friendly, then make it so! Put ramps in place of steps and curbs, and have staff on-hand to lend assistance if needed. When ramps can’t be used due to limited space, a portable platform lift is a clever solution.

 

  1. Give assistance to the assistants

Guide dogs and assistance dogs can literally be lifesavers for their two-legged companions. They deserve a medal, or at the very least a water bowl to quench their thirst – especially in the heat of summer. Doggy treats are an optional bonus.

 

  1. Use clear signage

Signs pointing out wheelchair access and disabled toilets or seating should serve as a beacon and be just as easily seen. There’s little point in providing these facilities if no one can find them. They should be marked on your ‘Accessibility Map’ and clearly signposted.

 

  1. Trained staff add class to an event

Staffed who have been briefed on how best to assist disabled and mobility impaired visitors are more comfortable on the night, adding a touch of memorable class to the event. Simple things like helping operate portable platforms, carrying drinks to a table, or offering to get coats from the coat check are easily done and won’t quickly be forgotten.

 

Making an event accessible for everyone isn’t rocket science, it’s more a matter of looking at the event programme and venue from a different perspective. Think outside your own set of limitations and challenges and ensure every guest is catered for.

 

 

Images:

Zoom Wheelchair by Gordon Watts under CC BY-NC 2.0

IMG_5396 by Jennifer Hughes under CC BY-SA 2.0

Written by

As Business Development and Operations Manager, Mark’s role includes building and maintaining business relationships, and managing and overseeing larger projects, all while keeping a watchful eye out for business opportunities.  Having a background in the health and disability sector provides Mark with the necessary understanding to assist clients when considering access solutions for people with mobility requirements.

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