Public venues such as the Florida Museum are required to meet ADA standards, but inclusiveness is more than just adhering to basic accessibility requirements. All guests of an event – including people of different ages, physical abilities, religions, races, genders, and socio-economic levels – should feel welcome and be able to enjoy the event. Here are some points to consider when planning events:

 

  • Ask your venue if they are ADA compliant, and in what ways. This goes beyond wheelchair accessibility – think about guests who may have visibility or hearing restrictions or sensory processing disorders.
  • Consult your calendar and take holidays from all major religions into account when choosing a date.Group of people dressed in prate costumes watch the antics at a pirate murder mystery event.
  • Eliminate questions about gender on registration/RSVP forms and similar designations on name tags.
  • Consider transportation and parking, and how easy (or difficult) it is to get from site to site during your event.
  • Ask your venue about lactation/nursing room access.
  • Design a layout that allows for an easy movement of people with mobility devices such as wheelchairs, scooters, and crutches. Plan for food tables and displays to be low (accessible by wheelchair). Make sure spots are designated for mobility devices or basket of pins with saying such as "ask me about my pronouns", "he/him", and various languages spokenchairs are easily movable if a wheelchair or scooter needs to take their place.
  • Serve food and beverages that cater to many different dietary needs, even if you don’t think you have anyone with dietary restrictions coming to your event. Talk to your caterer about how you can include vegetarian/vegan or gluten free options (sometimes it is a very simple switch) and label all food to include dietary restrictions and popular allergens. Always provide a non-alcoholic beverage option.
  • Remind speakers to speak slowly, clearly, and facing forward so audience members may use alternate senses if needed. If your event includes a Q&A, make sure the questioning audience member is able to be easily heard by the audience or that the question is Autism & UF program, yellow with image of gator made of blue and yellow puzzle piecesrepeated to the audience.
  • Make it easy for guests to tell you what they need! Include wording such as “Please tell us what you need to fully participate in this event (including mobility, sight, hearing, and food)” on your invitation, along with a deadline that provides you ample time to accommodate the request.
  • You may not be able to plan for everything, but when your event happens, watch carefully and be prepared to work as best you can with guests who may have last-minute special requests. Take note of these occurrences so you can address them when planning future events.

 

More great tips on planning for accessibility can be found in this article from Social Tables.