Hosting Accessible Events
When hosting events, it’s always important to consider who might be in attendance. With 22% of Canadians identifying as having a disability, the possibility that someone disabled wants to attend your event is likely. Beyond being inclusive, accessibility features can improve the experiences of all attendees, and improve the overall quality and experience of your event.
Here we will include tips, tricks, checklists and resources for planning and hosting accessible events. We aim to be as comprehensive as possible, and we will continuously update here as new technology and information becomes available, but every single person’s experience is different and the best way to accommodate your guests is to communicate openly with them. With that said, let’s start with key considerations.
No matter what type of event you are having, from a small meeting to a big conference these will be true and in fact can be applied to most things we do:
1. Accessibility and inclusion should be considered throughout the process and from the beginning.
These lenses should be applied through the planning process, advertising and marketing, at the event, and during event evaluation. Imagine you ask at registration if accommodations are needed and then don’t provide what was asked for. Alternatively, consider you have asked speakers to give a brief introduction of themselves for the benefit of blind or visually impaired guests, but none of your promotional materials could be accessed by a screen reader so no one who is blind or low vision knows your event was even happening!
2. You can’t know if you don’t ask.
While there are measures that can, and should, be done at every meeting to include the most people without anyone needing to speak up, as mentioned at the top, everyone’s needs vary and change. At every opportunity accommodations that are being provided should be shared, but space should be created for people to tell you if they will require different accommodations. Likewise, checking everything is working during an event and asking for feedback after events is imperative. We will include statements and lists of possible accommodations below.
3. Keep it simple, and be deliberate.
Be thoughtful in choices you make in regards to design, communications, setting an agenda and more. Graphics shouldn’t be too busy and should have a high contrast. Communications should be kept clear, concise, and specific. Avoid jargon when possible and write in plain language. Schedule breaks, give the appropriate amount of time for activities and consider if alternatives need to be offered or suggested.
5. Always ask for feedback!
This is a bit of a reiteration, but that is because it’s very important! There should be opportunities throughout any process to provide feedback about the process. Links break, technology stops working, things change and improve and if you ask constantly for your users to let you know they will, instead of taking away that something you gave them was unusable for them. You will see, at the end of this blog and all of my lists, that I have a place for you to do just that!
We have taken the time to get some lists together to help you out, no matter the event. Check them out here:
Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Contact us here: accessibility contact form