27.05.2020

How to host an accessible event

Make sure your event is accessible to people with wide ranging needs by reading our round-up of factors organisers should consider. From portable induction loops to space for working dogs, there’s a whole host of things you need to consider early on in your planning. Some will simply take time to arrange and others may impact your budget, so get ahead of the game and make sure you’ve got all of your bases covered.  

Pre-event

Promotional material should be in various formats including written, audio and Braille. Everyone registering at the event should be asked to make organisers aware of any disability or special requirements so communication can begin.

Transport and parking

Find out about the accessibility of local public transport stations and stops and make sure this information is communicated in your event material. You’ll also need to find out from your venue about Blue Badge parking on site and whether or not they have staff on hand to help any of your guests who need assistance getting into the building. At W12 Conferences we have two car parks at the rear of the building with dedicated Blue Badge bays and wheelchair access from these into the centre.

Staffing

You might need to keep some budget back to hire extra staff for any of your guests who need assistance. This could be with mobility, dining or interpretation. Some visitors may prefer to bring someone with them, you will need to know about this in advance for catering and seating numbers.

Venue

As a modern, purpose-built conference venue, W12 Conferences has wheelchair access to all of its facilities including all meeting rooms, bathrooms, breakout spaces, onsite shopping and our restaurant. Find out how many things your venue can tick off this list. If the venue you’re booking has stairs (we have none!), it’s also important to check it has lifts and you should find out whether or not there is space for working dogs.

Layout

Make sure your room layout for presentations, break outs and meals takes into consideration free movement for wheelchair users. Also, be thoughtful about seating arrangements ensuring wheelchair users have equal opportunities for networking, i.e. don’t just make space for them on the periphery of the action. Ensure you have reserved seating for visually-impaired guests, those who need to utilise the induction loop, delegates bringing working dogs or a helper and anyone who needs to be in close proximity to any interpreters.

Presentations

If you’ve asked the right questions during registration you should know well ahead of your event whether you need sign language interpreters, induction loops (W12 Conferences has two suites with induction loops already fitted, but you can hire portable ones if your venue doesn’t have any) or your content produced in Braille or large print format. It’s also a good idea to ensure your presentations take place in a well-lit place with good acoustics and an auxiliary sound system if possible. Minimal background noise is advantageous to anyone with a hearing aid and keeping ‘excessive noise’ out of any AV decisions could prevent serious discomfort. Tell all of your speakers as far in advance as possible if any of their audience members have any special needs so they can make sure their content is accessible to everyone.

Catering

A good caterer should be able to meet any special dietary requirements your guests might have, but it’s always worth checking before you book. If any of your delegates need help at meal times, your catering company may be able to supply you with waiting staff. Buffets can be challenging for guests with limited mobility, so make sure this is something you take into consideration when you ask guests about their needs.

Staff and speakers

In all of your planning make sure you are posing the same questions to and making the same provisions for your team and any staff you are hiring in on the day.

Get in touch

For more information about the accessibility at W12 Conferences and how we can help with your next event, give one of the team a call on 020 3313 1606