Accessible Event Planning
Making Meetings and Events Accessible
It is our expectation that all meetings and events sponsored by Lewis & Clark are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Taking care to create an accessible event will include individuals with visible or known disabilities, and also help ensure that individuals with non-obvious disabilities, chronic health conditions, as well as people of all ages and bodies are able to fully engage in the program.
As an event planner, you can create experiences that are accessible and welcoming to diverse audiences. While there is a lot to consider, good design is a process. Any progress toward inclusion is a success!
Consider accessibility early in your planning. Good planning may save you money as well as eliminate the need for retrofitting or individual accommodation. Review our information on universal design for inclusivity.
Be sure to include a welcome message in your invitation and let invitees know how to contact the planner for accommodations.
Your message might include text such as:
“We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that are welcoming to all individuals including guests with a disability. To be respectful of those with allergies and environmental sensitivities, we ask that you please refrain from wearing strong fragrances. To request an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact (name, email, phone).”
Look for these features when inspecting your meeting/event space
Visibility – Consider participants with low vision/blindness
Clear signage that identifies location and direction; well-lit meeting spaces and adjacent areas; ensure screen visibility from all seating if using projection equipment.
Acoustics – Consider participants with both hearing and sensory impairments.
Public address (PA) system; roving microphone; limit unnecessary background music; seating available near presenter for lip reading; availability of assistive listening devices; designated space for an ASL interpreter. Quiet space for individuals to disengage from the presentation.
Mobility – Consider those who use a wheelchair or other mobility aids.
Accessible parking near venue; proximity to bus stop; ramp and/or elevator access; accessible bathrooms; barrier-free pathways; wide doorways, aisles to accommodate wheelchairs/scooters; walking areas free of cables and other obstacles
Technology – Consider those who may need to use adaptive devices
Electrical outlets in accessible seating areas to accommodate devices, laptops, etc.; extra space for a work surface
Service Animals – Consider access and space for service animals
Comfortable space for service animal to rest during the event; accessible toileting and watering facilities nearby. Please review the Lewis and Clark Service and Assistance Animal Policy.
Provide presenters with information to ensure print accessibility:
To learn more about creating accessible PowerPoints and Word Documents please review:
Google Docs & Google Slides: To learn more about creating accessible Google Docs and Google Slides review this Google Help Guide.
For additional information on making videos accessible see Online Accessible Events tab below.
All videos should be captioned. Below are guides for adding subtitles to different video formats:
- Subtitle files may be created using any text editor and should be saved in SRT format. You can find a guide here for creating subtitle files as well as a rundown for the format.
- Google Drive provides instructions on how to add your own subtitles and closed captions. You may also consult this video walking through the process of adding subtitles to videos in Google Drive. Subtitle files (*.srt files)
- YouTube videos: You can turn on subtitles by clicking the CC icon at the bottom of a YouTube video. A red line will appear under the icon when closed captions have been enabled. To turn on subtitles for all videos you play from YouTube, visit your account settings and click “Playback and performance” and then check “Always show captions.” Click save.
The Zoom platform offers a variety of accessibility features (detailed on the Zoom Accessibility webpage). Zoom offers closed captioning through third party vendors, automatic transcripts, keyboard accessibility, and screen reader support.
Zoom Accessibility Barriers
For the most part, Zoom is a very accessible product, but the following items are not accessible and should be avoided or supplemented when possible:
- If you will be annotating items, please describe verbally what is being annotated.
- Limit the use of the whiteboard feature. While this feature can be very helpful for instruction, it is not accessible for everyone. Please consider alternatives such as Google Docs to accomplish the same goal.
- When sharing your screen, verbally describe what is on it; including slide numbers if a presentation.
- Share a link if you are presenting a webpage or an accessible version of any files.
Other useful websites that can help make your event or large meeting inclusive:
- Making Events Accessible
- Black, Disabled, and Proud: College Students with Disabilities
- Color Communication Badges
Commit to create an inclusive and welcoming experience for your participants by incorporating inclusive language in your activities. This will help create a comfortable environment for everyone. Always create your activities, icebreakers and events with a diverse audience in mind.
Some icebreakers have physical components that are inaccessible, such as trust falls or the human knot exercise. Others have visual content that may be inaccessible, such as the icebreaker where each individual wears a piece of paper on their back with the name of a famous person and has to ask the other participants questions to figure out what name is written on their back.
When choosing icebreakers, be conscious about the environment and whether everyone can access the same areas of the space. If there are space constraints, you may want to consider icebreakers that involve talking to a partner or a small group of nearby individuals.
Examples of inclusive activities:
Two Truths and a Lie (also called Fact or Fiction) - Each attendee comes up with 3 things which may not be known to the others in the group. Two are true and one is not. Share the 3 “facts” and have the group vote on what is true/false.
The Interview - pair/group attendees who interview each other. Discover 3 interesting facts about each other and then share facts out to entire group.
Desert Island - announce, ‘You’ve been exiled to a deserted island for a year. In addition to the essentials, you may take one piece of music, one book, and one luxury item (not a boat). What would you take and why?’ Share information out to group after a short think period.
Design field trips in a way that provides a common experience for all students, including routes, activities, and transportation
If you provide transportation, ensure that it is wheelchair accessible (has a lift), unless you ask participants if they need accessible transportation and no one requests it.
Universal design asks people to think about the “universe” of users, and to design something that will be as welcoming and engaging as possible beginning at the early planning stages (just like planning to have an elevator right away instead of trying to add one to a building later). Here are some questions to ask:
- Who is going to participate in this? Does our planning committee resemble the group of participants we want?
- Who is likely to feel unwelcome and not want to be there? Who is likely to feel welcome and enjoy it?
- From the start, what can we do to make things more accessible, inclusive and welcoming?
- What are some choices we can offer to support individual needs at this event?
- Race and ethnicity
- Interest in being social
- Values, politics, and beliefs
- Educational background
- Having multiple identities