Guide to Planning an Accessible Event

Download Guide to Planning an Accessible Event

Download Accessible Event Checklist

(Last updated: March 10, 2023)


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

Event Announcement

    • Announce the event or meeting early
    • Put event or meeting information on program website, even if sending an 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.
      • Do you use Starfish for appointment scheduling? Include a tagline statement in your profile letting individuals know how to inform you about accessibility needs.

Program Materials

    • Include the following statement on print materials:
      • “This document is available in alternative formats upon request by contacting (name, host department) at (phone number/email).”
    • Some individuals may need materials electronically or in large-print. Have items available and maintain a:
      • Digital Copy by posting to Box or Google drive and generate a shortened URL to provide to participants.
      • Large-print copy by using a sans serif font that is font size 18 or larger.

Parking and Transportation

Accessibility begins outside the event/meeting space through accessible parking or bus service. The university’s parking lots have accessible parking in accordance with the ADA, and campus transportation complies with disability accessibility requirements.


The following table provides information to review to ensure your facility is accessible:


Facilities Feature



    • There is a clear, smooth path of travel at least 36” wide from the bus stop or parking lot to the main or alternate entrance
    • Main entrance has no steps or leads to an elevator or wheelchair lift, and is at least 32” wide
    • If main entrance is not accessible, ensure posted signage indicating accessible entrance location
    • 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)
    • Does the entrance have power-door openers? If yes, test to ensure operating status
Emergency Exits
    • Emergency exits must be clearly marked and accessible
    • Restrooms must have accessible stalls
    • Automatic door openers are helpful
    • Host event/meeting space on same floor as the accessible restroom to promote inclusion
    • Ensure elevator or ramp access for event/space and restrooms

Event Room/Space


Room/Space Features



Accessible Path of Travel
    • Provide an unobstructed and 36″ minimum wide pathway to and throughout an event/meeting space allowing for wheelchair and mobility access
    • Cables, cords, and other items should not be draped across an accessible path of travel
    • Any thresholds (usually in doorways) should not exceed 1/2″ in height
    • Provide wheelchair accessible ramp if stage has steps
    • Stage space or passage or wheelchairs must be 36”-minimum
Seating For events:

    • 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, personal care attendants, and clear space for service animals

For meetings:

    • Ensure chairs can be removed to create a 36” minimum space for wheelchair users
    • Provide at least 60” of diameter space for wheelchair users to turn around to exit a space or room
    • Provide space for a service animal or a mobility device, such as a walker
    • 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
    • For large events, 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 large screen to display content
    • Ensure display can be seen from all locations within a room
    • Test room and window lighting to reduce glare

Other Considerations





Before and During the Event
    • Inform volunteers about locations of accessible bathrooms, parking, and emergency exits
    • Notify volunteers about any service providers – sign language interpreter or real-time captioner – who will be attending 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

Have questions or want to discuss or review a specific event or meeting space?