7.6 million people in the UK of working age (16-64yrs old) have a disability, that’s 18%.
So it’s important to ensure safety and comfort for delegates of all abilities at every meeting/event.
It is always much easier to create accessibility in an event when doing so in the planning stages. Good practice for those who are disabled is good practice for all- everyone benefits from good planning, flexibility and clear information.
Speak to your delegates, ask how you can help
Disabilities come in many forms so each individual will find some adjustments more effective than others, it’s important to talk to attendees in advance about their requirements, this will allow you to accommodate their needs successfully to make the conference inclusive and enjoyable for all.
Consider Location and Access to the Venue
When you visit the venue, scope out the access and routes between conference rooms considering mobility issues.
Take note- Is there lift access? How about a wheelchair-accessible bathroom? Consider the size of the entrances and corridors, are there any slopes or heavy fire doors?
Wheelchair users may prefer a designated space in the conference room that is easy to access and those who have a hearing impairment may wish to sit nearer the front to assist with lip-reading and hearing.
Check also that there is level parking and that they are accessible. Are there blue badge parking bays within 50 metres?
Ideally there should be a drop off point within 50 metres of the building
Check the accessible toilets – are there enough for the audience?
Provide this information clearly to delegates
Delegates with a mobility impairment will find information prior to the event on accessible transport, parking, stair-free routes and level access very helpful.
Clear signage and directions on the day are also a must. Consider using larger fonts so the signs can be easily read
A sudden rush to a breakout room in the crowds can be a challenge for those with impaired vision or mobility so providing all delegates with clear timetabling in advance will reassure delegates of where they need to be when.
Arrange suitable Audiovisual Equipment
Partially sighted individuals may require conference materials to be printed and in a format suitable to their impairment, they may find it beneficial to be provided with the slides in advance.
A high quality hearing loop system is essential in all rooms when there are attendees with a hearing impairment; this system transmits an audio signal directly to the hearing aid which will help prevent anyone from feeling isolated. These systems may work better in different parts of the room so it’s important to check this in advance and inform anyone who may require use of it of the best places to sit.
Also, remind speakers to face the audience and speak clearly which will hugely enhance the lip-reading experience.
Remember not all disabilities are visible
Be aware that some disabilities are hidden, those with anxiety or autism may appreciate access to quiet spaces away from the hustle and bustle of the main event.
Providing formats and inclusions for different sessions will allow delegates to pick and choose those that are suitable to them, we must recognise that not everybody is comfortable with participating in forced discussions or team games with people they haven’t met.
Take note of feedback
Ask delegates at the end of an event what worked well for them and what didn’t; learn from things that may have been overlooked in the past and take on board suggestions for improvement.
Use this advice constructively and make your next corporate event as inclusive and diverse as it can be.
DeSouza Associates provide a UK and worldwide free venue finding service and can include all this information for you in our bespoke proposals which outlines all the information you require.
Just let us know your requirements and we can collect the required information from the venues.
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Our team of experienced venue finders look forward to hearing from you!