Planning ahead for accessibility is important for any event. Whether or not you know that people with disabilities will be in attendance, it’s best to always assume that your audience will include people with diverse access needs. Additionally, many of the practices outlined below such as providing digital materials and checking sound quality can improve the event experience for all attendees. 

If presentations will be a part of your event, please consult our Accessible Presentations guide.

Event Promotion

Ensure that all digital promotional materials for the event are created in accordance with accessibility best practices. This includes web pages, online registration forms or schedules, flyers, and more. Specific guides for types of content can be found on the Accessible Technology Resources page. The digital accessibility office can support you with questions about how to create accessible digital content for your promotional materials at digitalaccessibility@colorado.edu.

Best practices for event promotion:

  • Include general information about accessibility, or lack of accessibility, that is known by the event organizer. For example, “The space is wheelchair accessible. Accessible parking and wheelchair access are available on the West side of the building. ASL interpretation and other accommodations are available upon request.”
  • It can be helpful to provide information about the types of engagement or activities that will happen at the event, so attendees know whether or not to request accommodations. For example, “The workshop will include a slide presentation and videos.”
  • Let attendees know how they can request accommodations, and if there are deadlines for submitting requests. (At CU Boulder, sign language interpreting and real-time captioning requests should be made seven days in advance of an event.)

Sample text for an event flyer: “The event is in a wheelchair-accessible space. Accessible parking and public transit options are available. For accessible copies of presentation materials, ASL interpreting, or other accommodation requests, please contact ____ by _____.” 

Planning for Accommodations

In live presentations, live captioning, ASL interpreters, or assistive listening devices can be provided for audience members to access the presentation. For questions about hearing assistive systems in specific spaces on campus, contact oithelp@colorado.edu or 303-735-4357. Please contact the campus ADA office about ASL interpreters or live captioning accommodation requests

Accessible Event Spaces

Consider and plan for access for individuals who use wheelchairs, crutches, or other mobility aids. One approach is to reserve specific seats in the front and back rows in case there are any attendees who need additional space or assistance getting to their seats or who have service animals. 

Other things to be mindful of:

  1. Check sound quality. The use of microphones improves sound quality for most attendees and enables the use of assistive listening devices for people with hearing impairments.

  2. Be mindful of chairs that are small or difficult to get into. If you think chairs may present access issues for some people, add other types of seating.

  3. Ensure access paths to seating and other important areas are not blocked or crowded by furniture, cables, or areas of congregation.

  4. At large events, have staff or volunteers available to help attendees find different locations (particularly helpful for blind and low vision attendees). For large events, it is also good to designate an on-site point person for accessibility, to troubleshoot any issues that arise.

  5. If feasible, consider live-streaming or recording the event. Having a remote option improves accessibility, since some people may be unable to attend in person for a variety of reasons.

To assist attendees with disabilities in finding the venue, it is best to have a directions page on your event website with clear directions. An example of a directions page that was designed with individuals with disabilities in mind is the directions to the A2Y workshop held by CU’s digital accessibility group in 2016. Include information about the location of accessible parking and accessible routes (ramps and elevators). 

If there is a last-minute change of venue, in addition to posting signs and/or sending emails, please have a person located at the original venue to redirect attendees to the correct location. This is particularly important for attendees who are blind or low vision, who may not be able to read visual signs that are posted.

Further Reading

American Bar Association. Accessible Meeting and Events Toolkit. A very detailed set of recommendations for accessible events.

Cornell University. Accessible Meeting and Event Checklist.