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How to make your events more accessible

Making events accessible is an important move for any event creator. But the process can feel overwhelming at first – especially when you don’t have much knowledge around the subject. To help you navigate this important topic, we’ve paired up Hannah Cox at Betternotstop and Manuela Cook from the Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) in putting together this guide.

Men in wheelchairs drinking

Making events accessible is an important move for any event creator. But the process can feel overwhelming at first – especially when you don’t have much knowledge around the subject. To help you navigate this important topic, we’ve paired up Hannah Cox at Betternotstop and Manuela Cook from the Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) in putting together this guide 😀.

For a bit of context, 16% of the global population have a disability, rising to one in every four people across the EU. With this in mind, it’s important to take accessibility seriously, so as not to discriminate against those who may struggle to attend your event if the right measures aren’t in place. Read on for all you need to know.

Tip: You might also find our guide to taking your event sustainability efforts to the next level interesting 👀.

Tips for making your events accessible

Purple sign which says step free route

Choose an accessible venue

Although your event venue isn’t the only thing to consider when it comes to accessibility – it is one of the biggest factors to get right. When searching for venues, aspects to consider include:

  • Is there wheelchair ramp access and lifts where necessary?
  • Is there parking closeby? It may also help if you can reserve certain parking spots for disabled access.
  • How far is the nearest public transport? Aim to choose a venue that isn’t too far from the closest bus stop, underground station, or train station.
  • Are there plenty of electrical outlets for those who may need them? Some people with disabilities may need to use a laptop, phone, or other equipment – so it helps to ensure your venue has plenty of outlets.
  • Is the venue well-lit? Dimly lit venues may be difficult to navigate for those with visual impairments. Likewise, certain types of lighting may not be appropriate for people with some disabilities. For example, strobe lighting could trigger photosensitive epilepsy.
  • Does the event have accessible signage? Signage should utilise a large, clear font that is strongly contrasted to the background colour. Otherwise, it may be hard to read for those with visual impairments.

Have British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters at your event

Organising to have BSL interpreters at your event is a crucial step in making it accessible. It’s worth noting that the interpreters should be secured as a matter of course – rather than as a response to specific access requests. Think of it like providing wheelchair ramp access at your venue; you wouldn’t wait to see if you have any wheelchair users attending before putting this in place. 

Sourcing BSL interpreters for your event requires a lot of commitment and forward planning – so it generally wouldn’t be feasible to ‘wait and see’ if you get any ticket buyers from the deaf community. (These tickets may not be bought until the last minute, for example.) 

What’s more, paying attention to detail in this way will make your event feel much more inclusive and welcoming.

Provide clear communications about accessibility before the event

It’s important that those with disabilities have all the information they need about attending your event beforehand. With this in mind, be sure to detail all relevant accessibility information across your comms. That may be on your website, invites, email comms, or box office page, for example. 

One way to make sure all information is in one place is to write up a comprehensive accessibility FAQ page on your website. This should help attendees quickly and easily find all the information they need.

Tip: Find out how to build a ticket sales site with WordPress and Ticket Tailor >

You may want to communicate that:

  • There will be sign language interpreters for the talks at your event.
  • Your venue is wheelchair accessible.
  • There will be a dedicated member or members of staff on-hand to help with accessibility needs.
  • People with disabilities can bring an accompanying guest free of charge.

It can also be a good move to give people the opportunity to let you know of any special requirements they may have. Your ticketing platform may allow you to create customisable checkout forms, for example, where you can ask ticket buyers for specific information at the point of sale. 

Otherwise, you could provide ticket buyers with an email address or phone number where they can reach you to let you know of any requirements.

Ultimately, offering lots of clear, friendly information and reassurance before your event can be a real game-changer when it comes to helping those with disabilities feel more comfortable in attending.

Offer free entry for an accompanying person

Some people with disabilities may want to bring a friend to help them out on the day. Or, they may have an assigned Personal Care Assistant (PCA). Offering free entry for this additional person will help to make your event more accessible, as it means disabled people won’t have to fork out for two tickets.

Accommodate service animals

Some people with disabilities use service animals – for example, someone with a visual impairment may need to bring a guide dog to your event. To accommodate the use of service animals, you should:

  • Make sure anyone with a service animal has an aisle seat booked, so there's room for the animal to sit by them. 
  • Provide water for any service animals.
  • Make sure there’s an accessible outdoor area where service animals can go to the toilet.
  • Make sure staff are aware to not fuss over service animals.

Provide a quiet room for neurodivergent attendees

Neurodivergent attendees may find elements of your event overwhelming – for example, if there are areas where there is a lot of noise. Providing a dedicated quiet room is a good way to make your event feel accessible to those who may find certain sensory aspects of your event difficult to deal with.

Make all presentations and slides accessible

It’s important that you communicate with any speakers at your event that they should ensure that any visuals for their talks are made with accessibility in mind. For example, presentation slides should be designed:

  • With a font that is large enough to be read from the back rows of the audience.
  • With a font that is strongly contrasted to the background colour of the slides. 
  • With colour combinations that mean those with visual impairments and colour blindness can view the slides. (Check out this colour blind design guide to learn more.)

You might also consider offering an audio-description service so blind people can understand any visuals displayed during presentations.

Finally, you may want to consider offering alternative resources for those with specific disabilities. For example, you could offer braille handouts for each presentation to anyone who needs them. 

Make it clear to attendees where they can get support

Make sure there’s plenty of help on-hand at your event, and that it’s easy for all attendees to find support and information. You may choose to set up a disability information point, or to have a dedicated team member who can help with all access requests, for example. It’s important that there’s clear signage all around your venue, too, so anyone in need can quickly navigate to a help point.

It can also be a really nice touch to run through accessibility information in any opening/welcoming talks at your event. That way, it’s clear to attendees from the offset where and how they can access additional support.

That’s a wrap! We hope this guide to event accessibility has been useful. A big thanks to Hannah Cox (Betternotstop) and Manuela Cooke (Royal Associate for Deaf People) for helping us put together these tips! 🙏

Ticket Tailor is packed full of useful features that can help with aspects of your event accessibility – like customisable checkout forms and seating charts. To explore our full list of features, just head over here >

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