Guide to Accessible Events
Different events will need you to consider different access requirements. This is a brief guide to basic access issues you may need to consider. Remember that it may not always be possible to cater for every issue at the same time. If you have any questions not covered by this guide you can email Charley.Hasted@liberalyouth.org
These issues will generally apply to any event in any location
- Try and organise events in spaces that are step free. If this isn’t possible find out if the venue has an accessible entrance or a portable ramp. Make sure you know who to speak to about using them.
Check Toilets: e.g.-
- Make sure you know where the toilets are and can direct people to them.
- If accessible toilets are normally locked check where the key is.
- If non-disabled toilets are up or down stairs try and find out how many steps are involved.
- Be prepared to help disabled members get to the toilet. You may need to move things/people out the way yourself or ask staff to do so. You may need to guide visually impaired members personally especially in unfamiliar venues.
- Try and make sure there is seating available for those that need it and that people attending know it’s ok to ask people to give their seats up if possible.
- Try to give distances in lengths as well as or rather than time estimates (200 metres instead of 5 minutes) a 5 minute walk for one person may take another person 15 minutes and it is generally easier to estimate distances.
- Check door widths- it is impossible to get some wheelchairs through a standard width door so try and find out if there are double or extra wide doors they can use instead.
- Ask the person attending about their needs – If someone tells you they have access needs don’t be afraid to ask what help they need, even if you can’t manage everything you should make it easier for them to attend and you can bear it in mind if you’re planning future events.
- Always ask before touching people’s aids – moving wheelchairs, sticks or other aids and adaptations, etc. without asking is rude and may cause some people distress.
These issues may arise depending on where your event is and what you’re doing.
- If possible try and visit your venue at a similar time and on the same day as you plan to hold your event this will allow you to get a better idea of how busy the venue is and the noise and light levels as well as checking access in general.
- Be aware of space requirements – a person using an electric wheelchair takes up more room than a person on a stool and in a busy venue might find it hard to get to the bar or even to get to where you’re sitting. If you’re reserving tables you might want to request tables near the entrance to allow people to find you easily.
- If you are moving between venues be aware of who is in your group especially people who might not be able to move as quickly or might need help. Walk more slowly than you might normally, if someone needs to stop and rest make sure someone is staying with them who knows the way to the next venue if you can’t wait with them. (If you have a driver in your group you could ask if they’d mind driving people).
- Organising a talk or debate? Check whether the venue has an induction loop and/or sound system. Remind speakers that they must use microphones if available.
- If you’re in a private venue try and use access corridors (you could mark them with tape) to make it easier for people to move around the space.
- · If you organise events regularly try and keep a good balance of events/venues: This is especially important if you have members with conflicting needs (an autistic person may need lower light levels to feel comfortable whereas a visually impaired person may need higher light levels).
- If you are producing written materials try and use different formats. Using differently coloured papers or having some copies in a larger font size (at least 14/16 in a Sans Serif font such as Arial) is an easy way to improve the accessibility of an event.
Disabled Go - http://www.disabledgo.com/ - Disabled Go have information on the accessibility of venues all over the country including a number of universities.
Good Access Guide - http://www.goodaccessguide.co.uk/index.php - Access guides for a range of places including hotels. Smaller number of venues than Disabled Go.
RADAR Keys - https://crm.disabilityrightsuk.org/radar-nks-key - RADAR is the National Key Scheme for accessible toilets and most locked accessible toilets require RADAR keys to open them. If you organise events regularly as part of a branch or society it may be worth buying one to have around.
Equality Advisory Support Service- http://www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/ - if there is an issue with a venue EASS can provide advice for dealing with it. There is an advice line and number of template letters that can be used for free.