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Making everyone welcome: How to ensure your exhibition or conference is more accessible to people with additional accessibility requirements.

It’s sometimes the case that accessibility for people with disabilities to business conferences, meetings and events doesn’t come very high on the list of priorities.

Happily, this is beginning to change, with more focus on giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate and be made to feel welcome. As an event organiser, here are a few ways that you can help.

Ask for attendees’ input early on

One way to ensure that accessibility doesn’t become merely an afterthought is by adding it to the top of your event planning list so that adequate provision becomes part of the planning process from the outset. 

A sensible move is to seek the advice of attendees in advance of your event about any accessibility preferences they might have. This goes for your speakers too. Do it in plenty of time to allow for any requirements to be included in your plans. This will also allow you to budget for such considerations.

Ensure the venue is suitably accessible

You ought next to consider the venue itself. Make it a priority to check that any areas you wish to use for your event are accessible, not only on the ground floors but with the availability of ramps, lifts and sufficiently wide, wheelchair friendly doors on other floors your event intends to use.

Bathroom facilities are an equally important consideration. Ensure there are separate facilities from the usual toilet space, with sufficient space for a wheelchair to turn.

Make the venue work for your event

You may need to make adjustments to other physical features of your venue – a temporary ramp for stage access, height adjustable microphones and lecterns for speakers, lighting and audio sufficient for people with visual or auditory impairments.

You’ll need seating space for wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and people accompanied by guide dogs. (Plus water bowls.) If required, arrange for a sign interpreter or note taker, with seating close to hearing or visually impaired attendees.

Provide quiet areas for any guests that require a quiet space or short break. And make sure all emergency exits and safety routes are well signed and accessible to wheelchair users.

Communicate with guests before the event

Before you finalise your venue accessibility plans, first share them with your attendees to ensure they’re going to feel comfortable about attending.

Let them know if a sign interpreter or note taker will be present, and if the venue will have a hearing loop. If possible, share presentations or slides before the event so attendees can prepare in advance.

Provide guests with an accessible route map making it clear where they can find accessible parking, entrances to the venue, emergency exits and accessible toilets. Also have someone meet speakers and guests with access requirements at the entrance as their point of contact for the day.

Following the event, you could also provide guests with transcripts in various formats to be used with screen readers, or as a subtitled video recording.

The most successful events will ensure that everything is in place to provide a positive and welcoming experience for everyone involved.

This is what makes Cooper Associates County Ground an outstanding choice for conferences, meetings and events. Fully accessible, with on-site parking, modern AV equipment for hybrid events, and a range of outstanding facilities, our expert team will work with you from planning through to the successful event itself.

Find your perfect event space today or reach out to one of the team.