When organizing events, it is important to make sure that they are accessible for disabled visitors. If your event is inaccessible or dangerous for people with disabilities, you are at risk of receiving complaints, damaging to your reputation, or reducing the number of visitors to the event. There are also safety issues to consider. Some events organizers have even got into legal trouble for discrimination because of bad organization!
If you are planning an event, it can often be tricky to know what you need to do to make your event disability friendly. This article will highlight some of the steps you can take to make sure that your event is accessible to all.
Improve Wheelchair Access With Ramps
When we think of access for disabled people, the first point that we often think of is access for wheelchair users. Many buildings have wheelchair access ramps, and it is best to choose these buildings to host your event if possible. If any essential stairs or platforms do not have wheelchair access facilities, you can install temporary ramps. Floor layouts should also be designed to allow access for wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Use Induction Loop Facilities
Like access ramps, you should ideally choose a building that has induction loop facilities for hearing aids installed. If a building does not have these installed already, you can hire temporary induction loops for your event.
Plan Audiovisual Presentations Carefully
If your event features the use of audiovisual presentations, there are a few factors that you will have to bear in mind when it comes to viewers with disabilities. Users with hearing aids can find presentations with very loud sound distressing and painful. Users who are deaf or hard of hearing may also struggle to hear what is being displayed. If this is the case, you should make sure that video presentations have sufficient subtitles. Even if you are broadcasting a live video, you can use live captioning software to provide subtitles for viewers.
In terms of visuals, avoid flashing lights such as strobe lights, as these can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy. If flashing lights cannot be avoided, there should be clear and sufficient warning at the start of the video, as well as signage around the venue. To avoid the chances of a visitor with epilepsy being unwittingly exposed to flashing lights, include warnings on the promotional material advertising the event beforehand, and on any tickets.
Use Reserved Seating
You may need to reserve specific seats for some visitors. These visitors include people who are hard of hearing (who may need to be closer to speakers and/or to interpreters), people who have impaired vision, people who are in wheelchairs or mobility scooters, and people who use guide dogs. If visitors have guide dogs, the dogs should also be provided for, with water and space for exercise. If your event includes a buffet, you may need to use servers to bring food directly to the tables of people who are in these seats.
There are many ways in which you can make your event disability friendly. If you are in doubt, check your local health and safety regulations in order to avoid the risk of discriminating people because of a badly organized event.