No matter what your role at the University, you may be responsible for planning an event. An event can be any experience: a class activity, team builder, student program, staff training, or field-trip, for any University audience large or small, campus-wide or a targeted group.
Given the diverse nature of the Metropolitan State University community, you should strive to design an experience that is welcoming, inclusive and accessible to all. CAR has resources to support you in your event planning to maximize access.
View our services in Co-Sponsored Event Space, external event space, internal and meeting space reservations.
Things to consider:
- Consider accessibility from the very early stages of your planning process. Good planning can eliminate the need for retrofitting or individual accommodations later.
- Welcome a diverse audience. Send the message consistently in your advertising, marketing, and interactions that the event is welcoming to a diverse group. Consider using images of a diverse group in your materials and clearly indicate how to inquire about or request disability-related accommodations.
- Be knowledgeable about all aspects of your event. Be ready to respond to questions about access. CAR can provide you information or resources, but as the event planner, you should ultimately field all event-related inquires.
- Strive to make the experiences of people with disabilities the same as those without. When you create accessible and inclusive events, all participants will have an equitable experience. By eliminating barriers to participation, all attendees will be able to fully access the event without modification or special requests.
- Create a positive experience. When we create inclusive experiences, participants feel welcome. Conversely, when there are barriers to participation, it can make participants feel unwelcome, and less likely to return or recommend this event to a friend or colleague.
Considering access and inclusion throughout your planning process will help make participants have a good experience.
What to plan for
Events can include a variety of activities that may pose accessibility challenges and require advance planning. Assure that any films or audiovisual content is captioned and be prepared to audio-describe visual content. If activities are a part of the event, consult with CAR to maximize participation and engagement for all attendees.
ASL interpreting and CART captioning: If you receive a request for a Sign Language interpreter or real-time captioning, the Center for Accessibility Resources will schedule and/or provide those services. Requests can be submitted online or by contacting Julie Bauch, firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-793-1539.
Accessible transportation: Accessibility Resources is available to assist departments and individuals arrange for wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Braille: CAR can produce Braille materials for your event. Contact Ezra Kesler, at email@example.com or 651-793-1569.
Captioning: If your event includes film or video, plan to use only captioned material. Contact the Center for Online Learning or the Library for assistance in locating captioned films and Web content or to consult on other options. If you receive a request, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance in providing requested accommodations.
Assistive Listening Systems: For all types of events, assistive listening is an important consideration. Information about FM Systems or other listening aids can be requested from CAR.
Selecting venues with accessibility in mind
The type of venue you choose for your event will significantly impact the experience of your participants. Most buildings and rooms on campus are accessible, but some are not, and each event space will offer varying degrees of inclusion. Any time you can ensure that all of your participants can use the same entrances, routes, and furniture, it increases the inclusiveness of your event and reduces the need for individual accommodations.
For large lectures, presentations and panels
- Depending on the size of the audience, tiered and sloped lecture halls, auditoriums, and larger Collaborative Learning Spaces are most suitable.
- Ideally, choose a venue that offers a choice of multiple accessible seating locations, e.g., at both the front and back of the room.
- Only certain spaces offer accessible routes to the stage or teaching area directly from the audience seating. If individuals will need to access the stage or teaching area from the seating area, make sure you choose a room that provides this type of access.
- Ask speakers, presenters, and panelists about whether they have any disability access needs.
What to avoid:
- Rooms/lecture halls that do not offer a choice of multiple accessible seating locations
- Rooms/lecture halls that are tiered (with steps) that do not provide access form the seating area to the teaching station or stage if that is required for presenters or participants
For interactive discussions, collaborations or workshops
Collaborative Learning Spaces, conference rooms, or flat classrooms with movable tables and chairs that offer a choice of seating throughout the room.
What to avoid:
- Flat classrooms with movable desk armchairs. The furniture arrangement is these rooms often creates barriers or people with disabilities.
For tabling events, career fairs and exhibits
- Open and flat floor space, with tables and chairs that can be rearranged, e.g., Ballrooms, Collaborative Learning Spaces, flat classrooms with movable tables, foyers, or courtyards.
- Flexibility and ample space are key, allowing for clear aisle ways of 7 feet.
- Ask exhibitors to remain behind the tables and keep all exhibits on the tables to help keep access aisles open and flowing.
What to avoid:
- Tiered or sloped spaces
- Rooms with fixed furniture
- A-frames, easels, or other free standing presentation methods that will affect the width of access aisles
For banquets and luncheons
- A venue that will allow for aisles of seven feet between tables when chairs are pushed in, e.g. Ballrooms, Collaborative Learning Spaces, flat classrooms with movable tables, foyers or courtyards
What to avoid:
- Tiered or sloped spaces or rooms with fixed furniture
- Rooms with movable desk armchairs
Be sure that any materials you distribute or present are accessible or available in an accessible format.
- Consider posting your materials online, or emailing to participants, in advance.
- If you plan to distribute paper copies, consider having a few copies available in large font (20 point).
- How to create an accessible PDF
- How to create accessible PowerPoint presentations
- In your advertising, recruitment and marketing materials, consider where and to whom you outreach. Consider a wide range of locations and contacts to increase the diversity in your participants.
Statements about the availability of accommodations are a way of creating a welcoming environment. By encouraging advance inquires, you can identify accommodations early so that they can be implemented in a seamless fashion. You may use the following templates in your marketing:
- For materials promoting events: “If you need disability related accommodations, including parking, to make these events accessible, please contact the Center for Accessibility Resources, 651-793-1549 or Accessibility.Resources@metrostate.edu.”
- On publications: “This document is available in alternative formats upon request, by contacting the Center for Accessibility Resources, Accessibility.Resources@metrostate.edu or 651-793-1549.”
- For registration forms or RSVPs: “Describe any disability-related accommodations that will facilitate your full participation in this (workshop, training, seminar), such as ASL interpreting, captioned videos, Braille or electronic text.”
- On websites if you are unsure of accessibility: “If any portions of this page are not accessible with adaptive technology, please contact (insert page owner/contact name, email and phone).”
- On web pages that contain non-captioned audio content, such as podcasts: “To request a transcript or a captioned version of this audio material as a disability-related accommodation, please contact the Center for Accessibility Resources at email@example.com.”
Good, clear signage is an important accessibility feature. Be sure signage is posted at various height-levels. If there is not already, consider creating signage for:
- Main entrance/exit
- Flow of traffic
- Paths of travel
- Only use the wheelchair logo if, in fact, the venue you are using is wheelchair accessible. The logo only refers to wheelchair access and should not be used as a “generic” message that other accommodations are available. Be intentional with the services provided and the symbols associated with them to ensure clarity. Learn about other disability access symbols.
Planning for virtual events
In addition to many of the items discussed for planning in person events you will also want to consider that virtual events, including class sessions, require some additional steps in the planning process. Here are a couple great sites that take you through those additional steps: