Whether it is a fundraiser, a marketing stall at an event, or a community occasion, as a business or organisation you want everyone to have a great time and get a good vibe about you.
Often planned in minute detail, sometimes one thing gets over-looked – accessibility.
When we hosted our comedy evening at Lytham Hall, the Paraorchestra at the Winter Gardens and enhanced events such as Lytham Festival and the Blackpool Lights switch on, the feedback from having staff who were welcoming and friendly to people with disabilities, having mobiloos and British Sign Language translation was extremely positive.
People who had shied away from events previously because they had not found them accessible or couldn’t find out about accessible information previously, were able to have a great time and make amazing memories with families and friends.
You might not have the budget for a mobiloo but from marketing your event to hosting it, access is important for everyone ( you wouldn’t host an event at a venue with no toilet) and there are plenty of things you can do to ensure it is inclusive.
Here’s 10 things you can do to ensure inclusivity:
10 tips for an accessible event:
- Is your event marketing accessible? If it is being promoted on your website, do you highlight accessible features – hearing loop, wheelchair ramp, British Sign Language Translation?
It is important to let people know what features you have or don’t have and what they can expect and in plain and concise English. (See our PDF for more accessible marketing tips).
2. If you are having a bar, welcome staff etc… do they have awareness of disabilities and would they know how to help a person with a disability?
Customer service makes a world of difference to everyone and “Can I help you” goes a long way, but often staff may feel uncomfortable to ask in case they offend a person with disabilities.
We provide free online training here, which you can do at your own pace and in small chunks, which will help give staff an understanding of different disabilities and how to confidently communicate with people too.
3.According to the Access Is Everything 2014 State of Access Report, 83% of disabled gig-goers surveyed had been put off buying tickets due to inaccessible booking systems. While you might not be hosting a gig – even just a free community event which requires booking – it is the same principle.
Provide all of the relevant information a disabled person may need clearly and use pictures.
4. Find out about people’s individual needs on a booking form.Is the building/ room you are using accessible? Does it require a ramp, are there very small steps which will become a barrier to guests in electric wheelchairs, or those with visual impairments?
You might be able to purchase a portable ramp to provide guests, or even if you can’t, just letting potential guests with disabilities know what to expect is helpful and saves embarrassment.
5. If you are using a room which does not have an induction loop facility for hearing aid users, they can be hired. It also helps to ensure any presentation is not too loud, which can be painful for people with hearing aids and also be un-nerving to some people on the autistic spectrum and flashing light is a no-go for people with epilepsy.
6.Consider how wide aisles are and whether a wheelchair or mobility scooter could navigate easily without bumping into stands, tables etc…
7.Provide facilities for service dogs, such as bowls for water.
8.Consider the heights of tables/ stands – are they low enough for a wheelchair user? If not, consider lowering, or putting a lower counter to the side of the higher counter.
9.Low lighting is problematic for people with visual impairments and for those people who are deaf or hard of hearing, as it can make lip reading very difficult.
10.Accessible toilets. Are there any? Let people know where they are located. Do you have reserved seats for people with vision impairments and service dogs or spaces for wheelchairs? Location and floor plan is extremely important.
By putting accessibility into your event planning and considering where you can make some reasonable adjustments, you will enable more people to enjoy your event, which can only ever be a great thing!