How to Make Your In-Person and Virtual Events Accessible
It is a fact that we are not invincible, nor will we live forever. We can become disabled at any time, either temporarily or permanently, through illness, accident, or simply with the passage of time. Disabilities can come in many different forms, from physical to mental; some disabilities may be unnoticeable or “invisible” to the average person. We often automatically assume someone isn’t disabled just because they don’t “look disabled.” Consequently, we need to keep accommodations and inclusivity in mind when planning both in-person and virtual conferences and meetings.
5 Top Tips to Make Your Events More Accessible
Here are the best ways (recommended by meeting planners) to make your meetings accessible and reach out to a wider audience.
#1: Know Your Attendees
Before going live with your in-person or virtual event, it’s important that you get to know your attendees better. One way of collecting information is by adding registration questions about dietary restrictions or potential accommodations. These can help event coordinators plan effectively and bypass any potential issues during the actual event.
#2: Think Beyond Physical Disabilities
Disabilities can be physical as well as mental, and it’s crucial to give equal importance to both types. Don’t focus just on accommodations for physical disabilities; many people have “invisible” disabilities (such as brain injuries or debilitating pain) to account for when planning your event. When meeting planners take care of this information, it makes planning easier and sets you up for delivering a seamless experience to attendees where they can actively participate.
#3: Stay Informed of Your Attendees’ Food Habits
Some individuals may have disabilities that require them to monitor their food intake or blood sugar levels. Make sure that people can not only eat what you’re offering but that alternatives are available for individuals who can’t. Not only will this ensure that they can freely enjoy their meals, but it also leaves a great impression on your association that it actually cares about all attendees.
#4: Be Mindful of Sensory Stimulants
There may be individuals who are reactant to strobe lights, loud background music, etc. This is especially important to consider when you are hosting an in-person event. Try to have sensory-friendly rooms or quiet rooms available for individuals who may suffer from sensory overload, including outdoor spaces for people to take off their masks if necessary. This will make them feel at ease at all times and a sense of appreciation for your organization that their comfort is always taken care of.
#5: Take Care of Accessibility Settings
Virtual events need accommodations as well! When possible, try to incorporate virtual accommodations into your event platform, such as:
- Subtitles/closed captions
- Colorblind-friendly page colors and backgrounds
- Screen-readers & text-enlargers
- A “dark-mode” or other ways to mitigate visual sensory overload