Creating and Hosting Accessible Events
Taking care to create an accessible event benefits not only individuals with apparent disabilities, but also helps ensure that all participants, including individuals with non-apparent disabilities and/or chronic health conditions, and people of all ages and body types, are able to fully engage in the program.
From physical space considerations to hiring American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, there are many items to consider. While organizers are generally responsible for ensuring their events are accessible for all participants, the DRC recommends the following resources and best practices. DRC staff can also provide event-specific accommodation support for individual students who are registered with their office. Additionally, the DRC's Usable Materials Center is available to provide workshops, training, and additional support for creating accessible content.Download Information as PDF
List of Accessibility Topics on this Page
- Early Planning Considerations
- Venue and Physical Space Considerations
- Marketing, Web Design, and Forms
- Food and Drinks
Early Planning Considerations
- Include individuals with disabilities throughout all stages of event planning.
- If your event is long, ensure that you have an appropriate number and duration of scheduled breaks throughout the day.
Venue and Physical Space Considerations
Before booking a physical space, it may be helpful to conduct a site visit to ensure venue accessibility. Make note of and plan around things such as:
- Wheelchair accessible seating, and enough space between tables for wheelchair maneuverability
- Appropriate lighting and temperature controls
- Nearby restrooms (accessible stalls, changing tables, and all-gender availability)
- Ample accessible parking or public transportation to the event space
- Audio technology such as microphones, hearing loops, and listening devices
It may also be beneficial to:
- Ensure that the space is large enough to hold your expected number of guests
- Avoid flashing/strobing lights, latex balloons, or fog machines, as these can cause reactions including leading some participants to feel dizzy, disoriented, or unwell
- Confirm emergency protocols and ensure proper changes are made for disabled individuals, such as proper elevator usage
Marketing, Web Design, and Forms
- Provide accessible online registration forms, including an option to request preferred names. Purdue University's preferred online survey/registration tool is Qualtrics, though Google Forms may also be used.
- If your event is being promoted online, ensure that your website meets WCAG standards for font readability, colors, alternative text, and more.
- Provide helpful contact information on all forms and websites in case of additional questions from participants.
- Consider including an accessibility statement on all event materials, such as the following:
Disabled attendees should contact [insert event sponsor’s name and phone #] regarding any specific accommodation needs. We ask that you notify the event sponsor at least seven working days in advance of any requests for auxiliary aids such as sign language interpreters and alternative format materials. We will make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations in an effective and timely manner.
Food and Drinks
- Plan to have available gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, and halal food options for those who request it. Use registration forms as an opportunity to collect quantities for each meal type.
- Clearly label all food and keep specialized options separate.
Event Materials and Supplies
- Be prepared to provide copies of all materials in Braille (as requested), large print, and digital on event day.
- Check and update the accessibility of the presenter's materials, including digital presentations and printed handouts.
- Distribute all digital materials to attendees ahead of time, including a daily agenda and accessibility information.
- Please ensure all videos (including videos given by presenters) are captioned.
For advice on how to create more accessible materials for your events, we recommend reaching out to the Usable Materials Center, which will open in the fall of 2022. Below is more specific guidance from the Usable Material Center on how to make materials accessible:
For Braille, large print, PDF, PPT, and tactile formats, the Usable Materials Center can produce up to 10 pages in-house depending on current workload. Event materials must be sent to email@example.com. Generally, requestors will hear back about their request within one business day. For accepted jobs, expected turnaround time is five business days. Alt Formats will create an invoice and send it to the department for payment. However, if the job is either too large or we are unable to add it to the workload, then the event sponsor will need to request service from SeeWriteHear with a 7-business day lead time. There they will create an account, receive an invoice, and pay the vendor directly.
For ASL interpreting, the event sponsor may request service from Sharp Eyed Group, Luna360 or LTC Language Solutions, all of which require at least a 7-business day lead time. The sponsor will create an account, receive an invoice, and pay the vendor directly.
For video captioning, the sponsor will request service from Cielo24, which requires a 7-business day lead time. Additionally, it will take 3 to 4 days for the captioned material to be returned to the sponsor. The sponsor will create an account, receive an invoice, and pay the vendor directly. You can also use VEED.IO for auto captioning that can be edited later
For CART, the sponsor will request service from Escholwood Corp., DBA Terry’s Transcripts (email firstname.lastname@example.org). A 7-business day lead time is required; sponsor will create an account and pay vendor directly.
- For Web accessibility, use the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
ASL and CART Services
Event hosts should do the following when an attendee requests ASL interpretation or live-captioning support:
- Encourage disabled Purdue students who are registered with the DRC to request CART services or an ASL interpreter from the DRC
- Encourage disabled Purdue staff and faculty to request this support from Purdue's HR ADA Coordinator, whose contact information is listed below.
- In all other cases, event hosts should coordinate these services from vendors with whom the University has contracts. Event hosts are responsible for funding.
- Student organizations who host events should request funding support from the Student Activities Office SAO
- Faculty and staff who host events should request funding support from their department
- In extreme circumstances, units should contact Heather Servaty-Seib (email@example.com) in the Office of the Provost for funding assistance.
Day of Event
- Post directional signs at all entry points to indicate the event space, elevators, stairs, etc.
- Ask photographers to seek permission of attendees before taking pictures of people, and direct them to avoid flash photography when possible.
- Brief all staff on accessibility guidelines and plans.
- Avoid background music during pre-event activities or socializing.
- During any opening announcements, share the following information:
- Give clear directions to all accessible restrooms, elevators, etc.
- Share emergency protocols
- Invite participants to take breaks or step out of the room as needed
- Indicate which people a participant may go to in case of an unexpected accessibility need
- Presenters should use available sound systems to ensure sound is uniformly distributed. We recommend that you do this even if you feel that your voice will project.
- Presenters should enable Hearing Loops in spaces where they are installed.
- At events that involve the audience, avoid requiring audience members to stand to participate or ask questions if at all possible.
- At events where there are standing tables, ensure that there is a reasonable number of sitting tables so that those who cannot stand may be included in conversations
- It may help to research whether other events may be happening in the same venue that day to avoid confusing directions or noise conflicts.
- Consider providing additional contact information for nearby pharmacies, urgent care, grocery stores, accessible transportation.
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