Creating an inclusive event is about ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can participate and feel welcome. Event professionals can make a significant impact by incorporating accessibility into their planning, on-site logistics and post-event follow-up. Here are some tips and ideas for creating an event that is accessible and inviting for all attendees and speakers.
Planning for Accessibility: When selecting a venue, start by asking about accessibility options, such as ramps, lifts and facilities designed for those with disabilities. It’s also important to ensure that attendees can access the venue location easily; this includes considering accessible transport links, like step-free access train stations and reliable local bus and accessible taxi services.
Another point to consider is the needs of any neurodivergent individuals attending your event. Creating quiet spaces within the event where people can take a break is a thoughtful approach. You should also be communicating the event’s accessibility provisions to your attendees before the event, showing your commitment to inclusivity and inviting individuals to share any additional support requirements they may have.
Inclusivity also extends to dietary requirements, so collect this information in advance and provide information about allergy-friendly options. Consider offering faith-inclusive choices, such as Kosher and Halal, and provide a variety of non-alcoholic drinks for a sober-inclusive experience.
Make sure that all your pre-event communications are accessible to visual and hearing-impaired guests. This includes optimizing your event website for screen readers and considering those with colour-blindness.
A vital step in event planning is curating an inclusive speaker and panel line-up, ensure that the speakers represent a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives (this is where we come in!). Additionally, you can make your event website and on-site communication straightforward, with clear signposting for attendees to get help if needed. Providing printed materials in braille is an extra touch that can make a big difference.
Before the Event: Once the planning is complete, it’s time to shift your focus to the event’s execution. Walk around the venue ahead of time to check for any potential spatial issues, such as unclear or illogical signage.
Before the event, brief your event staff about any specific accommodations that may be required beyond their usual duties. Assign seating at the front of the auditorium for attendees who may need more space or benefit from closer proximity to the stage. Ensure that power access is available for anyone using adaptive devices.
Don’t forget to consider the needs of service animals that may be present at the event; assign a staff member to check in with guests throughout the event to ensure their needs are being met. For attendees with difficulty reading or limited language proficiency, consider sharing presentation slides in advance.
Ensure that the stage and speakers are well-lit, making it accessible for visually impaired guests or hearing-impaired individuals who rely on lip-reading. If needed, allocate space, lighting and budget for a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.
Don’t forget to ensure that the speakers’ needs are also met. Check that the podium and microphone are height-adjustable, and consider alternatives to autocue for dyslexic or English as a foreign language (EFL) speakers.
Following Up: After the event, gather feedback from participants through accessible online or phone surveys. In these surveys, include sections on accessibility and inclusivity. Use simple questions to understand whether the event attendees felt that their accessibility needs were well catered to. Additionally, inquire whether the speakers, panel, and entertainment selections were appropriate, inclusive, and representative.
By collecting feedback, you can make informed decisions and further enhance the inclusivity of your future events.
In striving for greater inclusivity at events, remember that Spectrum Speakers is your dedicated partner. We specialize in sourcing speakers, awards hosts and entertainment from underrepresented backgrounds across all industries. Get in touch today and start making your events more inclusive and accesible!