Best Practice Guidelines for Planning an Accessible Event
Welcome: Best Practice Guidelines for Planning an Accessible Event
Events are significant experiences and opportunities that foster professional and personal enrichment. Inclusion of all is one of the core values at the University of Kansas. Our goal is to create a campus climate accessible to all, and proactively plan events free of all barriers: physical, communication, or others so that all individuals may meaningfully participate in campus activities and events.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the University of Kansas (KU) Event Accessibility and Accommodation Policy require that all public events, conferences, and meetings, be accessible. The ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility (ADA RCEA) developed the Best Practices Guidelines for Planning an Accessible Event (ADA RCEA Event Guide) to ensure KU event planners have the tools they need to think proactively about common barriers to accessibility so they can be prepared to host events that deliver an inclusive experience to all participants.
Proactive planning for access and inclusion optimizes the opportunity for a well-planned accessible event and minimizes the need for individuals with disabilities to request accommodations to participate in the event. The ADA RCEA Guide provides a framework for best practices on a variety of common event planning issues, i.e. pre-event, publication, accommodations, food, service animals, and event day. The ADA RCEA encourages event planners to implement the recommended best practices, to the extent feasible for all events.
The ADA RCA Event Guide is an evolving document; updates will occur regularly. Suggestions and comments that further enhance accessibility and inclusiveness of events should be shared with email@example.com.
This guide is designed to allow you to print the entire guide or print only the sections you need. Each section is separated by page breaks.
The Best Practice Guidelines for Planning an Accessible Event is intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. For any clarification please reach out to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org, 785-864-4946.
Proactive Accessible Event Checklist
- Review KU Event and Accommodation Policy.
- Designate a person responsible for ensuring accessibility of the event, and for facilitating requests for reasonable accommodations. List their contact information on all promotional materials.
- Ensure that the individual responsible for accessibility is familiar with the emergency plan for inclement weather and evacuation from the building/space to ensure accessible exits. (See KU emergency management website.)
- Select and tour the venue to ensure it is physically accessible, as outlined on Event Venue Considerations.
- Contact the IT and/or AV Contact for the event venue to review whether the venue has the technology required to provide Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) and/or other requested services. CART provides real-time captioning for the event.
- Train staff working event about accommodations, assistive devices, and etiquette for communicating with individuals with disabilities. (see Accessible Communications)
- Conduct an accessibility check of event materials. (e.g., font/color contrast of promotional materials). Please review section “Event Announcements” for more information on ensuring materials are accessible. Contact ADA RCEA for assistance in performing accessibility review.
- Ensure all recorded videos are captioned. Check accuracy of the captions.
- Ensure all event flyers contain the required accommodation notification information:
"Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend University of Kansas sponsored events. If you require a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this event, please contact [insert: the sponsoring department or contact person] by , 20 at [insert: telephone number, email, fax number].”
- If space on the event publication does not permit the required event notification above, the following shorter notification statement may be substituted:
“If you require a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this event, pleasecontact ____________ [insert: the sponsoring department or contact person] by at [insert: telephone number, email, fax number].”
- If food is being served add an option on registration to request a certain diet. Ensure compliance with all FDA and CDC guidance on food preparation and serving.
- Consider requesting on the event flyers/promotional materials that attendees refrain from the use of scents during the event. Attendees with allergies may experience a variety of symptoms from exposure to scents.
Example to include on event documentation:
“This event is a scent-free environment. Attendees and presenters are requested to refrain from wearing scents such as perfume, cologne, aftershave, etc. Thank you for your cooperation.”
- Provide multiple avenues for registration if registration is required; e.g. online, paper, in person.
- Consider proactively providing ASL Interpreter and/or CART for the event. Particularly for larger events and live-streamed events.
- Decide whether to proactively provide other accessibility measures such as materials in alternative formats.
- Ensure that event and presentation materials are provided in advance of the event to American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and/or Communication Across Real Time Translation (CART) providers to allow them to familiarize themselves with the content.
- If developing a post event survey include a question about accessibility of the event. Provide multiple avenues for registration if registration is required; e.g. online, paper, in person.
- Review campus accessibility resources.
- Review the accommodation process. Request a consult with ADA RCEA on accommodation process, review, determinations, or other questions.(Review Processing Event Accommodation Requests/Common Request)
- Reserve event funds for accommodation requests. Recommend that sufficient funds are reserved to provide ASL Interpreting and/or CART for larger events, i.e. 100 participants or more.
- Provide presenters with the Communication Guidelines for Presenters (see Communication Considerations for Presenters)
Event Venue Considerations
When selecting a location on or off campus to hold your event, ensure the location is physically accessible. KU-sponsored events are required to be held in a physically accessible location on or off campus. Check to ensure that there is an accessible entrance to the building, the room is accessible, and there is a designated accessible restroom. Ensure that elevators are functioning, and ramps are unobstructed. Ensure all exterior and interior items contained in this section are provided on the day of your event. The following section will provide more specifics on how to achieve this. For more detailed information visit: ADA Architectural Standards (pdf).
- Parking spaces required depends on the total number of parking spaces in the lot, as seen in the table below. One of every six accessible parking spaces, or a fraction of six, must be“van-accessible.” A van-accessible parking space provides an additional 3 feet of width to accommodate vehicles equipped with ramps or lifts.
|Total Number of Parking Spaces in Parking Facility (Lot or Garage)||Minimum total number of Accessible Parking Spaces Required||Minimum number of Van Accessible Parking Spaces|
|1001 and over||20, plus 1 for each 100, or fraction |
thereof, over 1000
Path of Travel:
- Ensure there is an accessible route from accessible parking spaces to accessible entrance. Consider the path with inclement weather, if relevant.
- If possible, host the event in a building with an accessible entrance in the front of the building.
- Have a wide width entrance (at least 32-inch-wide door). Note revolving doors are not accessible.
- Have accessible push-button access
- If entry is a manual door (instead of power) ensure an individual can open the door using less than 5 pounds of force. If you are concerned about this, facilities can check the weight of the door.
- Have a barrier free access ramp into building.
- If no ramp is present, and you intend to use a temporary ramp, verify the following:
- Ramp installed is non-slip.
- Ramp is stable enough for someone who has limited mobility concerns to use without the ramp bowing, shifting, or tilting.
- Ramp meets the ADA minimum of 36 inches of width between handrails and the slope meets ADA standards.
- If no ramp is present, and you intend to use a temporary ramp, verify the following:
Path of Travel Through Event Space:
Have a clearly marked barrier free path of travel from the entrance through the building, to the registration/sign in location, and to the event space.
- All exhibits should be in a space that will allow for two-waytraffic pathway of at least 64 inches.
- Hallways should be clear of clutter, allowing for clear two-way traffic of 64 inches wide. Have a barrier free path to any additional rooms that are used for the event.
- All aisles need to be at a minimum of 36 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter.
- Accessible restrooms need a clear, marked path to the restroom.
- Consider the accessibility of the podium. For a wheelchair user, a table may be preferred to a podium.
- Consider the accessibility of the stage. If event includes invitation of public onto stage, consider proactively ensuring access via ramp or lift.
Registration and Tables:
- Registration and sign-in desks/tables should be at a height that is accessible for anyone who uses a wheelchair or scooter or is short-statured by frontal approach (no more than 34 inches and no less than 28 inches above the floor) and allows for adequate knee/leg clearance under the desk or table (at least 27 inches between the floor and underside of table).
- Tabletop must be between 28 and 34 inches from the floor.
- If guests are seated at a table, knee space should be at least 27 inches from the floor to the lower edge of the tabletop.
Ensure the event space has a designated accessible restroom. Accessible restrooms will be designated as such by an ADA/Accessible Restroom sign posted outside the restroom. The sign will be brailed and tactile sign that designates the restroom as accessible.
Seating for Event Space:
- Provide chairs with and without arms, and bariatric chairs.
- Check line of sight for accessible seating.
- Avoid seats attached to tables.
- Have reserved seating near front for participants who may have vision or hearing impairments.
- Provide appropriate number of accessible seats, please review the chart below. Accessible seating includes seating that individuals with disabilities can use including individual who use wheelchairs or other mobility aides, as well as individuals with service animals.
- If possible, do not place all accessible seating in the same area. For example, integrate accessible seating throughout space, not only front or back of seating options.
- Have well-lit space for ASL interpreter, preferably with a dark, solid colored background, e.g. no bright light behind them or distracting wall decoration.
- Ensure that interpreters have space to rest when not interpreting.
- Ensure unobstructed view of ASL Interpreter and CART screen/text. Reserve seats directly in front of the ASL interpreters and CART screen for individuals using these services.
|Total Seating Capacity||Required Number of Accessible Spaces|
|Over 500||6 (plus 1 additional space for each total seating capacity increase of 100)|
Outdoor events need to be made accessible to the extent possible.
- Are there event restrictions on bringing in bags or having chairs available? Please include accommodation notification near any event restrictions contained on a flyer/event notification.
- Accommodation requests to bring in a bag or chair need to be reviewed by the designated accessibility contact for the event.Unless the accommodation request creates a fundamentalalteration to the event, the request should be granted, subject to security concerns.
- Advise attendees of the location of accessible toilet facilities; have a portable accessible toilet if no facilities available.
- ADA Standards require that at least five percent of portable toilet units must be accessible.
- Have clearly marked, and non-obstructed accessible paths and clear signage.
- Ensure paths are clear of any debris and will allow for wheelchair mobility
- Have seating for people to rest as needed.
Virtual conferences are becoming more and more popular. When planning for a virtual conference, event, or meeting it is important to remember to make it accessible for everyone. The following are things to consider during the planning and implementation of your event.
Prior to the virtual event
- Requests for accommodations should be stated on any invitation. (accommodation statement).
- Include the virtual format being used on the event information so participants can plan for any assistive needs.
- Have a telephone-based teleconferencing connection available for participants that cannot use the virtual event technology or plugin. Remember that not everyone has full access to internet.
- Have an IT accessibility point person to help answer any questions before, during and after the event.
- Test presenter’s audio and video quality consider having presenters wear a headset for clear quality.
- Ensure all presenters/videos have captions.
- Consider if the virtual event can be prerecording instead of occurring live. Pre-recording permits you and your AV team to caption the presentation/videos. This eliminates the possibility of technology issues which may occur during live virtual presentations.
- Material should be provided ahead of time to allow participants to review the information. Material shared online during presentations are not accessible to individuals using screen readers. If the presenter plans on sharing screens during their presentation, provide the material prior to the virtual event in an accessible format.
- When creating material for the virtual event ensure it is accessible. Visit the KU Accessible Documents page for information on how to create accessible Power Point Presentations, Word documents, among other materials.
- Provide ASL Interpreters and CART proactively for large and/or live streamed events
- You may contact KU Media Productions for assistance in captioning. If pre- recording event use Kaltura. Kaltura can add captioning to the event video after filming is complete.
- When deciding what virtual platform to use there are certain things to consider:
- Do all participants have access to the platform being used?
- Is there a cost for the participant to utilize the platform?
- Have you considered security for “virtual bombers”?
- Are the virtual functions accessible with a screen reader? For example, the volume controls, the chat function, etc.
- Do all participants have access to the platform being used?
- Provide various ways for participants to respond/participate in the presentation such as question emailed prior to start of event, chat, and microphone.
- Plan time at the beginning of the event for technology problems involving logging in to the event.
- Remember that technology can have delays, pause for a few seconds to allow for someone to unmute their microphone or type into the chat.
- If the event will be recorded, prepare accessible versions, and create transcripts if possible, of the presentations.
- Ask that presenters introduce themselves each time prior to speaking.
- Ensure presenters face and the American Sign Language Interpreter’s face are well lit and clearly displayed on the screen.
- If you live tweeted the event, consider making a document which includes those tweets for others to view that may not have access to Twitter.
All event announcements (online or print) for University- sponsored events and events held on or off campus needs to include a statement of sufficient size and distinction informing the public of how to request accommodations for the event.
The statement needs to be placed prominently on the bottom of the material and include the following details:
- Event Accessibility Contact’s name, email, phone, and TTY (text telephone) numbers.
- Deadline for submitting an accommodation request. The department hosting the event may request as many as 14 days or as few as would be possible to provide the requested accommodation.
You can use the following example statement as a template for your announcements:
"Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend University of Kansas sponsored events. If you require a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this event, please contact _____________ [insert: the sponsoring department or contact person] by ____________ ,20 ______ at [insert: telephone number, email, fax number]."
If space on the event publication does not permit the required event notification above, the following shorter notification statement may be substituted:
“If you require a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this event, please contact [insert: the sponsoring department or contact person] by
20 at [insert: telephone number, email, fax number].”
Consideration in Developing Event Materials
- Use text with sans serif or simple serif large type text at least size 14 and avoid decorative fonts.
- If a request is made for large print it should be font size 18 or larger.
- Use bold type when separating headlines and differentiating between sections.
- Avoid using italics or all capital letters.
- Spell out numbers.
- The use of different colored lettering for headings and emphasis is difficult to read for many people with low vision.
- Graphics and any background on the page will make text difficult to read and should be avoided.
- Check color contrast. Avoid dark backgrounds with a dark print.
- Text on cream colored paper is easier to read than on white paper.
- If creating videos, ensure all videos are captioned, and check accuracy of captioning.
- Align all text on the left.
- Offer alternative formats (braille, large print, black and white, e-text version of document).
- If posting a paper event flyer on a bulletin board, use large poster-size paper appropriate to the size of the bulletin board to ensure information on the flyer is legible.
Ensure your event website is accessible by requesting an accessibility check. You may request assistance from the IT Accessibility Coordinator to perform this accessibility check. Email email@example.com to request this. Ensure your event website contains the following information:
- Include information on how to submit an accommodation for the event through the event website.
- State all accessibility features that are available. Examples include accessible restrooms, accessible entrance, looping, ASL, and CART.
- State any unavailable accessibility features, e.g. no looping available, but can provide FM receivers.
- Ensure documents are physically and digitally accessible.(E.g. color contrast on document and font size (size 14-16 font when printed). Contact ADA RCEA for an accessibility check.
Posting on Social Media:
- Include image descriptions (alt text) for any photos.
- All videos need to be captioned.
- Review Federal guidelines for accessible social media.
- Contact ADA RCEA for assistance and review of social media accessibility.
- Use plain, active language
- Explain any acronyms
- Use Camel Case for hashtags
- Use alternative text/image descriptions
Processing Event Accommodation Requests Processing Requests:
- Have designated accessibility contact facilitate all accommodation requests.
- Review accommodation request.
- Approve or deny requests.
Approval of a request:
If the event team determines that the request is reasonable the designated accommodation contact should reach out to the requester to inform them their request is approved and discuss any necessary details. The purpose of providing reasonable accommodations is to ensure full participation, afford access and remove barriers to meaningful participation in the event for individuals with disabilities. Requests for accommodation that remove barriers, provide full participation and access should be approved. The accessibility contact may contact the ADA RCEA to discuss an accommodation request.
Denial of request:
If the event team determines they are unable to provide the requested accommodation, the designated accessibility contact must review the request with the Director of the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility. The director must approve any denial of an accommodation request.
The ADA and KU’s Event Accessibility and Accommodation Policy require that event organizers provide effective communication during the event for individuals with communication disabilities, i.e. hearing, vision, or speech disabilities. The goal is to ensure that communication with individuals with disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities. ADA RCEA Event Guide recommends providing ASL and CART services proactively for large and live-streamed events.
Common communication accommodations include:
- American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
- Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART)
- Assistive Listening Devices (See Assistive Listening Devices)
- Alternate format for materials. If materials will be provided to attendees, it is recommended to proactively prepare these materials in alternative formats (braille, large print, e-text). The appropriate number of alternative copies varies based on type of event and size of audience. Please contact ADA RCEA to discuss appropriate number of copies. ADA may require alternative materials as an auxiliary aid or service necessary for effective communication if an individual with a disability submits a request for alternative material as an accommodation. Such materials may include:
- Brailled documents, Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Large print (18 size font)
- E-text, electronic documents
- Captioned videos: Test all videos that will be used to ensure quality of captions.
Technology Considerations Recommended process for using CART
- Consult with IT/AV Venue Contact to ensure room allows for AV and IT for CART services.
- Select CART provider and CART vender availability for the event.
- Ensure that you can feed the sound directly from the sound system into the computer you will be using to engage the CART provider (unless that person is in the room with you).
- Schedule test of CART services prior to event. Recommended that both the CART vender and IT/AV event contact participate in the test.
- Ensure CART vendor provides captioning link prior to the event.
- Download the captioning link onto the event laptop or computer.
- Ensure enough space on PowerPoint/screen for captioning. Generally, four lines for captioning is needed. This needs to be checked before presenting. Font size must be large enough to view from the back of the room.
- Ensure a good contrast of the captions and background (preferable black/white).
- Ensure roving microphones are available for audience participation.
- Ensure that the presentation screens are viewable from all areas of the room.
Assistive Listening Devices
- Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) improve sound transmission for individuals with hearing impairments. Different types of ALD are designed for different settings and purpose, i.e. use in a large venue, vs. use in smaller setting. All ALD can be used either with or without a hearing aid or cochlear implant. Audio Induction Loops and FM System are two types of ALD.
- Audio Induction Loop System – the looping technology provides a magnetic wireless signal that is picked up by a hearing aid or cochlear implant when it is set to the Telecoil setting. Looping is the best ALD for a large space. Rooms with looping technology will have a sign outside of the door indicating ALD. For large events consider holding the event in a room that has looping technology. Check with building manager for a list of rooms in that building that have looping technology
- Check with ADA RCEA for a campus-wide list of rooms with looping technology.
- FM Receivers – uses radio signals to transmit amplified sound to the individuals’ hearing aid and/or cochlear implant. Frequently used in smaller setting. FM Receives are available across campus. Check with the AV contact for the building to discuss availability of FM Receivers. Captioned videos: Test all videos that will be used for captions.
- Ensure that you have enough assistive listening devices for all who have requested them. Best practices suggest having an extra three devices on hand in case a participant makes a request the day of the event.
- Keep all audiovisual assistive devices in one central location. Make sure you have the devices that were requested ahead of time prepared for the participants to use them.
- Tables with food should be between 28 and 34 inches from the floor to the top of the table.
- If you must place food higher than 34”, you must ensure a portion of this food is available at the lower level.
- Knee space: 27” from floor to bottom of table if guests will be using table for eating, writing, interviewing, receiving services, etc.
- Aisles: at least 36” wide for maneuverability, and up to 44” wide if goods/services are available on both sides of an aisle to ensure access from both sides.
- Cables: covers should be used over electrical cables or cords that must cross over aisles or pathways. Cable covers should be no more than 1/2“thick for wheelchairs to traverse across them.
- Have attendant if using self-serve style.
- Consider finger food that do not require utensil use.
- Check with catering vendor in advance to determine ingredients in food, so event may provide clear signage on ingredients in food or avoid ordering such foods for future events.
- Consider providing foods that do not contain common allergens. If there are Identify any foods containing common allergens, such as peanuts or peanut oils. Consider pre-plating these foods for safer offerings.
- Clearly mark ingredients in food items and place food on separate platters.
- Ensure compliance with FDA and CDC food preparation and serving guidance.
Final Check: Day of Event Considerations
- Ensure there are prepared materials in alternative formats.
- Ensure that there are copies of materials that are printed in large print, and braille.
- Ensure CART and Assistive Listening Devices connections
- Do a final check for accessibility of event space
- Ensure approved accommodations are in place
- Provide presenters with communication guidelines (see Communication Considerations for Presenters)
- Review general information regarding Service Animals (see General Information on Service Animals)
Communication Considerations for Presenters
Clear communication during presentations provides equal access and inclusion for all attendees of the event. The following best practices are intended to assist presenters in providing clear, effective, and inclusive communication.
- Announce start and end of presentation.
- Describe verbally locations of the emergency exits, food/beverages, restrooms, and a location where someone can locate a staff member.
- Inform attendees at the start of any activity (such as those that require reading or writing or moving about the room) and ensure that there are accommodations so that all can fully and equally participate.
- Avoid the use of strobe lights, unnecessary/unusually loud sounds, and exceptionally strong scents.
- Avoid the use of any inaccessible tool or device, e.g. non accessible ice breakers. Inaccessible tools, devices and apps are not compatible with screen readers. Please contact ADA RCEA to test apps, tools, devices for accessibility prior to the event.
- Articulate all information included in slide presentations and describe all in- materials such as slides, charts, videos, etc.) in detail. (See Audio Description Guidelines)
- Ensure all videos are captioned.
- When reading directly from text, provide an advance copy and pause momentarily when interjecting information not found in the original text.
- Periodically check in with participants to ensure they are following the presentation.
- Avoid covering mouth. If a mask needs to be worn, consider a clear mask.
- Use a roving microphone for audience to ask questions. Repeat questions posed by participants in the audience before responding. If a microphone is not available, presenter should repeat the question prior to answering.
- Allow for written questions.
- Ensure enough space on PowerPoint/screen for captioning. Generally, four lines for captioning is needed, but this should always be checked before presenting and font size should be large enough to view from the back of the room.
- Depending on length of program allow for regular breaks (every hour to hour and a half) for questions and answers as well as restroom breaks for attendees, service animals, CART/ASL providers, and note takers.
- Ensure compliance with The University by visiting Protect KU
Disability Etiquette / Communication Considerations:
- Focus on the person, not their disability.
- Use people first language (Guidelines, 8th Edition PDF)
- Do not assume an individual needs assistance. Wait to be asked before offering assistance.
- Talk directly to the individual, not the interpreter, companion, or attendant.
- Be polite in greeting, shake hands.
- Listen carefully, wait to reply until individual has finished speaking.
- Be sensitive about physical contact and space.
- Respect an individual’s privacy.
- Do not make a decision on behalf of a person with a disability regarding what they can/cannot do.
- Place yourself at eye level when speaking with an individual that uses a wheelchair for more than a minute or two.
General Information on Service Animals:
Service animals are permitted to accompany their handler into any event space. The ADA limits service animals only to dogs (in some limited cases a miniature horse) that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task performed by the dog must be directly related to the individual’s disability.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that the service animal be under control of their handler at all times. The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, tag, specific harness, or have any specific certification.
If questions arise regarding the validity of a service animal the ADA only allows two questions of the handler:
- Is the dog (or horse) a service animal required of a disability?
- What work or task is the animal trained to perform?
If the person responds with yes and indicates a task, the animal is a service animal and should be permitted to accompany their handler in the event. If questions arise beyond this point please contact the KU ADA RCEA Director.
Audio description provides information about what is occurring on the screen. This allows video content and graphics to be accessible to those with visual disabilities. Requests for audio description are increasing. It is anticipated that event planners may receive requests for audio description of event. An example of audio descriptions is found below. Can you imagine what is being described in the attached clip?
If web video is produced with accessibility in mind, then audio descriptions are often unnecessary, as long as visual elements within the video are described in the audio.
KU ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility Carruth O Leary, Room 117
KU Parking, kupark@Ku.edu
Allen Fieldhouse Garage
1501 Irving Hill Road
Lawrence, KS 66045
KU Public Safety
1501 Crestline Drive, Suite 120
Main Phone - 785-864-5900
KU Media Productions website here25