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Accessible Event Planning: A checklist

CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF DISABILITY SERVICE PROVIDERS IN POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

Adapted from the Accessible Events Guidelines
Developed by Dale Hall, Human Rights Advisor to the President, George Brown, Toronto City College
In Consultation with the Diversity, Equity and Safety Committee of George Brown, Toronto City College

When planning a CADSPPE event, please consider the following checklist to ensure that your event is accessible to all your participants.

1. Sending out the advertising, outreach and registration forms for your event

  • Give ample notice for your upcoming event – this allows people to arrange for transportation and assistants.
  • Provide space on your registration form, or a phone number/email address on the event notice, for people to identify their accommodations or special needs.
  • Follow up with people who request accommodations to inform them whether or not these will be available.
  • On the posters or information sheets, include accessibility symbols and the duration of the event.
  • If you are serving food, give participants a chance to request dietary preferences.

2. Helping participants get to the space you are using

  • Make sure transport options for getting to the venue are realistic for people with disabilities.
  • Check for wheelchair accessible parking close to front entrance.
  • Make sure that wheelchair access is via the main entrance – or post clear, legible signs at the main entrance showing alternative, safe and accessible entrances.
  • Make sure people with a disability can reach all areas used at your event independently or with assistance from your volunteers, e.g., the registration desk, auditorium, breakaway rooms, stage, etc.
  • Elevators should have low buttons for wheelchair users, and Braille or raised number markings, or audible floor announcements.

3. Planning the room(s) for your event

Make sure the room set-up for your event:
  • is large enough for wheelchair users
  • allows easy movement (remove chairs to allow access by a wheelchair)
  • has wide aisles
  • has accessible areas interspersed throughout the room -- front, middle and back
  • has plenty of space around tables
  • has good lighting
  • has a stage that’s easily visible
  • has a screen that’s easily visible (for overheads and Powerpoint)
  • has reasonably good acoustics
  • has reserved seating in the front row for Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing people
  • has accessible washrooms within a reasonable distance.
Also make sure that you:
  • Cover electrical cables or cords that cross over aisles or pathways so wheelchairs can traverse across them.
  • Provide Assistive Listening Devices (e.g., an FM system, where a speaker wears a small amplifier that transmits to the listener’s receiver) if requested.
  • Know the location of public telephones that are accessible (i.e., with volume control, with a TTY*, and for wheelchair users, the coin slot should be 1.22m above floor level).
  • Post clear and easy-to-read signs showing locations of accessible washrooms, elevators, phones, etc.
  • Wherever possible, try to eliminate or reduce background noise during proceedings.
  • Ensure that all parts of the event are smoke- free (and free of strong scents, e.g., floor varnish, etc).
  • Make sure organizers, presenters and volunteers are aware of emergency evacuation procedures.
* A TTY is a telephone communications device that an individual with a speech impairment or hearing loss uses by typing words in place of using voice. The caller and the receiver of the call must both have a TTY to communicate with each other, or either one can use the Relay Service (this number is located in front pages of phone book).

4. Planning ahead with people power

  • Train your volunteers for the event.
  • Make sure that volunteers are easily identified, and use name tags and/or other identifiers.
  • Book a sign language interpreter or computerized notetaker / real time captioning if it has been requested (or if you plan to advertise your event as accessible to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people). Please book at least 2 - 3 weeks, or more, in advance. Provide interpreters and notetakers with agendas and presentation outlines in advance of the event. At they event, make sure they are identifiable. On booking interpreters, see Section 6.
  • Computerized notetaking / real time captioning are often used by people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing. A typist turns orally-presented material into typewritten form. The user may sit beside the transcriber and read the typed text, or the typed text may be transmitted to a television monitor or large screen for viewing by several individuals. Again, make sure notetakers are identifiable. See Section 6 for info on booking.
  • If your event is in the evening, and is for students, have you considered that many of our students may have childcare responsibilities that could prevent them from attending the event? You may need to arrange for child-minders and an activity room. See Section 6.
  • If food is provided, make sure the total count includes interpreters, notetakers, attendants and child-minders.
  • Encourage participants to refrain from using strong scents.

5. Suggestions for Effective Presentations

  • Remind presenters to end meetings or presentations on schedule (people making parallel transit arrangements often have very little flexibility).
  • Have you thought to produce materials in large print (16-point type or larger), or other alternative formats such as tape, Braille or disk if requested?
  • It is always good to have a few print copies on hand. Encourage and support presenters to offer copies of their material in different formats before their presentation starts.
  • For presenters, lectern heights and audio visual controls need to be adjustable to meet the needs of different speakers.
  • During the session, presenters should verbally describe contents of videos, or any written materials, including overheads or chalkboard notes.
  • Encourage presenters to use captioned videos.
  • Organizers or presenters should check with the audience about the need for breaks.

6. Budgeting for your event

How do I book a sign language interpreter and computerized notetaker / real time captioner? Or how do I provide an Assistive Listening Device?
  • Contact your local Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services for more information.
  • Interpreters and Computerized Notetakers cost approximately $40.00/hour, and if the event is over 2 hours, 2 interpreters and 2 computerized notetakers are required.
How do I find out where the closest TTY phone is located?
  • Public TTY pay phones are fairly rare across most campuses. Locate the one closest to your event.
How do I get materials produced in Brailled format?
  • Contact the Disability Services department on your campus.
  • Or contact the local Canadian National Institute for the Blind office. The CNIB may charge a small fee.

7. Evaluating your event

Make sure you:
  • Distribute written evaluations that include a section for participants to comment on the accessibility of the event. This can provide everyone with an opportunity to learn about making events accessible.


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