Guide to Planning an Accessible Event

Download Guide to Planning an Accessible Event

(Last updated: September 14, 2022)


Use this guide to create an accessible, inclusive event for everyone, including people with disabilities.

Event Announcement

    • Announce event early
    • Post announcement to program website, even if sending and email or flier:
      • Include Text of email attachments in email body to improve screen reader access.
        • Use the Center for User Experience’s Email guides for more suggestions.
    • Include an accessibility tagline statement informing attendees how to request a disability accommodation.

Event Materials

    • Include the following statement on printed event-materials:
      • “This document is available in alternative formats upon request by contacting (name, host department) at (phone number/email).”
    • Have program materials/documents available:
      • Electronically – Post to Box or Google drive and generate a shortened URL to provide to attendees
      • Large-print format – usually no smaller than font size 18

Parking and Transportation



      • Any shuttle service should have wheelchair lift.



Facilities Feature



    • Ensure main entrance is wheelchair accessible (no steps, door width at least 32”)
    • Avoid using a separate entrance for wheelchair users (if the building’s main entrance is not accessible, make the accessible entrance the main point of entry to create inclusion)
Emergency Exits
    • Emergency exits must be clearly marked and accessible
    • Restrooms must have accessible stalls
    • Automatic door openers are helpful
    • Host event on same floor as the accessible restroom to promote inclusion
    • Ensure elevator or ramp access for event space and restroom where stairs are present

Event Room/Space


Room/Space Features



Clear path of travel
    • Provide an unobstructed and 36″-minimum wide pathway throughout an event space allowing for wheelchair and mobility access
    • Cables, cords, and other items should not be draped across the pathway
    • Provide wheelchair accessible ramp if stage has steps
    • Stage space for wheelchair seating or passageway must be 36”-minimum
    • Designate seating space for wheelchair users and individuals with mobility disabilities:
      • Place space near projection screen and podium
      • Include companion seating next to reserved seating (usually 1-2 additional seats)
    • Reserve seating for sign language interpreters, captioners, or personal care attendants
    • Sign language interpreting or captioning must be provided if requested and approved as a reasonable accommodation
    • Consider the experience your audience has with the content to ensure communication access for all participants, with or without a disability:
      • Language
      • Vocabulary
      • Level of detail
    • Use a microphone for all verbal communication by anyone (speaker, audience)
    • If someone asks a question or speaks without a microphone, repeat what was said into the microphone
Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)
    • Have ALDs available and synced to microphone for individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Projection Screens
    • Use a screen to display content
    • Ensure display can be seen from all locations within a room

Other Considerations





Day of Event
    • Inform volunteers about locations of accessible bathrooms, parking, and emergency exits
    • Inform volunteers about any service providers – sign language interpreter or real-time captioner – who will be attending and supporting the event
    • If a guest didn’t request an accommodation, check in with them and see what they need to have access. Implement accommodations as possible given the short notice
Service Animals
    • Service animals are not pets and are generally permitted wherever the public can go. They are used by individuals with disabilities and have the following features:
      • Protected under disability laws
      • Usually a dog or miniature horse
      • Must be trained to perform a specific task or work for the individual with a disability
      • Must be under the handler’s control at all times. Service animals are not required to be leashed or tethered if it will interfere with the animal’s trained duties
      • Documentation is not required

      View this service animal guide for more information

Maintaining Accessible Events
    • Including accessibility features allows individuals with disabilities to independently access your event and reduces your obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation
    • Budget for accessibility features and accommodation requests

Questions and Additional Information