9 things to consider when planning an accessible event

Event hosts are obligated to ensure all attendees may experience the event equally. So, when it comes to planning an accessible event, making sure every guest feels welcome and safe should always come first.

According to Access Ontario,

“The key to making events inclusive and accessible is to think about the many barriers that can exist for people with disabilities, and address them at the planning stage. It starts with your venue.”

Taking the lead on supporting accessibility within our Georgian Conference and Event Spaces, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide as to what you should consider when planning your next accessible event in Barrie.

“Whenever possible, visit the site of a potential venue. Think about people with different disabilities, who may attend your event and the barriers they could encounter…” (Access Ontario)

1. Doors
Does your venue have automatic doors that help to remove barriers for those in wheelchairs, on crutches or who have other mobility concerns? If not, consider how else you can improve accessibility – volunteer door openers, etc.

2. Washrooms
Accessible washrooms are crucial for event attendees with walkers, canes and wheelchairs. Check for grab bars and larger bathrooms, designed for greater accessibility.

3. Safe Surfaces
Loose mats, slippery wet tiles and soft carpeting can all make a venue less safe – for all people. Check that the venue has level flooring, that steps and ramps are well maintained and that all tripping hazards are removed or clearly marked.

Sign showing a step-free route


4. Transportation
Is your event conveniently located near public transit? Does it provide parking for those in need of designated parking spaces? Georgian College provides accessible parking for your guests that require this accommodation.

If not, consider providing accessible shuttles or other forms of private transportation. It is also important to ensure drivers, volunteers and your staff are trained to assist with lifts and ramps.

5. Presentations & Advertising
When it comes to your presentation and marketing materials, it’s important to be inclusive of those who are blind, have limited vision, are deaf or are hearing impaired.

To accommodate all people, promote your event through various different formats such as phone calls, emails, print ads, website content and more.

When presenting, be aware of any person who may require ASL translation, ear plugs, text captioning, assisted listening devices, seating closer to the stage, etc. Use a microphone if needed and speak slowly and clearly when addressing the crowd.

Another important tip is to use at least 12 point sans serif fonts like Arial in your print marketing and for any event signs – as these letters are easier to read.

To gather insights as to who you may need to accommodate at your event, encourage attendees to inform you of any dietary restrictions or accessibility concerns. Should you have guests who require accessibility support, be sure to provide them with helpful details in advance, such as ‘which entrances are most accessible.’

6. AODA Compliant Website
Are the details for your upcoming event readily available online? Is your website AODA compliant? An AODA compliant website should use dark, clear and large fonts that can be read easily, all imagery should have alt text and be sized appropriately, audio should be adjustable and pages should be titled.

Visit Ontario.ca for full details on AODA compliancy.

Hands typing on a laptop


7. Lighting
For those with sight impairments, super bright lighting can be painful or uncomfortable. Poor lighting, on the other hand, can also be harmful to those trying to read text, lip read or see an ASL Translator.

Venues with adjustable lighting are ideal.

8. Acoustics
Echoes and audio feedback can be extremely difficult and annoying to those who are hard of hearing. When possible, reduce the need for sound equipment and choose event spaces that have optimal acoustics.

9. Service Animal Support
Service animals are welcome at public events and work to make life easier for those with disabilities. To support individuals with service animals (and the animals themselves), provide water and a resting area.

A service dog


Book Your Accessible Event at Georgian Today!
With accessible parking, safe outdoor and indoor surfaces, automatic doors, accessible washrooms and the various other solutions mentioned above, your event will not only be a hit, it will also show equal respect for each of your valued guests.

For a full list of things to consider when planning for accessibility, download this guide!

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