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Accessibility checklist for events

Accessibility is important for all disabled people. It allows for full engagement in all areas of life, it shifts the focus from the disability to the person, it allows for inclusion. Putting accessibility front and centre, when organising an event means that the needs of disabled people with a visible or hidden disability have been thought of to allow full participation.

UCU is committed to the social model of disability and to removing or reducing the barriers disabled people face at work and in society. The accessibility checklist below identifies key areas for branches to consider in making events fully inclusive and accessible for disabled people. To use, simply click on each heading for points to consider when planning and organising your event. 

Thanks to Lucy Burke, NEC HE disabled rep and member of the Disabled Members' Standing Committee, and colleagues at Manchester Metropolitan University for developing this valuable resource.

Websites

Is the website accessible?

Think about accessibility (www.w3.org), usability (www.hobo-web.co.uk) and the use of inclusive language (www.and.org.au).

Online platforms

Do you understand the accessibility features of the online platform you're using for your event?
Have you issued clear, step by step instructions to attendees regarding how to access these features?
Have you included the name of a contact person if a participant is struggling to access the event or engage with it?
If the platform requires the provision of human support for captioning or BSL has this been arranged and details included in communications to members?

Information

Is information available in a variety of formats?
Is it presented in an accessible font, colour scheme and style?
Is it clear and logical?
Does it use inclusive language?  See https://www.and.org.au/pages/inclusive-language.html

Emails

Are emails presented in an accessible and clear style and colour scheme?
Do they use inclusive language? https://www.and.org.au/pages/inclusive-language.html
Do these make it clear who the recipient should contact if they have a question or a specific support requirement?

Advertising

Does the advertising make it clear that this is an accessible event? For instance, does it indicate that there will be BSL interpreters, a palantypist, step free access, audio captioning, free entry for personal assistants etc? Does it indicate who people should contact if they have a specific support requirement? Is the text accessible and clear. Does it use inclusive language?

Registration

Are the arrangements for registration clear? Do people understand where and how to register? Have they been provided with a map, indication of a step-free route?

Requirements

Are the organisers/chairs of sessions/other participants aware of best practice in relation to accessibility?
Are people aware of other participants' additional support requirements?
Have all participants been sent guidance on accessibility and inclusive practice?
Is there a hearing loop system at the venue and does it work?
Is there easy access to outdoor space for people with guide dogs?
Is there a named person (or named people) and a designated place to which participants can go if they have additional needs or questions during the event?

Parking

Have arrangements been made to ensure that anyone requiring a disabled parking space knows where these are and how to access them?
Are there disabled parking bays as near as possible to the entrance?
Have the needs of people with mobility impairments or other access needs who might require parking been accommodated?

Entrances

Are entrances clearly identified? Are they accessible? Is there a ramp? (This doesn't just mean whether or not they are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair user but whether someone who is neurodiverse or has another physical or sensory impairment is able to identify and access them?)

Signage

Is signage clear and accessible? (Is it appropriately large, obvious, presented in an accessible style and font, placed in appropriate places to enable someone to move around a venue, does it indicate step free routes and the location of lifts).

Doors

Are doors clearly identified, are they sufficiently wide? Are they heavy (and therefore difficult for someone with a physical impairment to open)?

Pathways

Are pathways sufficiently wide to accommodate a wheelchair user or someone who requires support from another person? Are they clear of obstacles? Are they smooth? (Cobbles are not easy for wheelchair users).

Staff

Are staff aware of attendees with additional needs? Do they have the information they need to support them appropriately?

Registration desk

Is the location of registration clear, is it accessible for wheelchair users? Is there a designated area in which anyone with an additional need can discuss their support requirements/access information?

Lanyards

Are participants able to identify their preferred pronouns on their lanyards? Are people able to indicate whether they are comfortable to be approached, prefer to initiate conversations (ie to approach people themselves) or whether they prefer to be left alone. (This is helpful for neurodiverse people and can be indicated by the use of different coloured dots).

Stairs

If a particular route involves stairs then this must be indicated, as should step free routes.

Lifts

The location of lifts should be indicated in the information packs along with routes to them. Lifts must be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair. It is important to check whether the lift buttons are available in braille and whether audio announcements of the floors etc is available. If not then this must be communicated to participants with visual impairments.

Catering

Does this accommodate the dietary requirements of different faith communities, of vegans and of people with particular intolerances?
Is information about the food/ingredients available?
How easy is it for wheelchair users to access refreshments?
Are people able to sit down to eat? Is the seating fixed or can it be re-organised to accommodate wheelchair users?

Toilets

Is the location of accessible and gender neutral toilets identified in the information packs? Are routes to these toilets clearly signposted? Does the venue provide gender neutral toilets?

Room

Is the signage clear and accessible?
Is the furniture of the room organised in an accessible manner enabling wheelchair access?
If a window needs to be opened then how noisy is the room?
Is the temperature appropriate (this can be an issue for people going through the menopause or on hormonal treatments for cancer)?

Seating

Is the seating fixed? Can the layout be altered to meet people's needs? Is there appropriate space for wheelchair users?

Presenters

Have presenters been provided with information about accessible practice? This should include guidance on the production and presentation of slides and the management of the Q&A session. Presenters should:

use high contrast colours
ensure that the use of colour is NOT the only way in which the audience is expected to distinguish information
use a large (at least 24 point), simple, san serif font (e.g., Arial, Verdana, Helvetica)
reduce the amount of text on slides and ensure that people have the opportunity and time to read the slides
ensure that they read out the text on the slide to make sure that people with visual impairments know what everyone else is reading and provide an audio description of every image or video that they present. Graphs and charts should be described and summarized. It is helpful to provide a brief description of what is in the video before it is played in order to help a blind person establish the context for what they will hear
make graphics as simple as possible
ensure that the question and answer session is accessible. If there is a microphone then it should be used. Otherwise, it is important to repeat the question so that everyone can hear what is being asked. (The presence of a palantypist is useful in supporting people with hearing impairments but in the absence of this, it is good to establish how people in this situation will be enabled to participate/follow the Q&A)
some neurodiverse people find the lights and hum of projectors very difficult, particularly once the presentation itself has stopped. It is useful to ensure that this additional sensory input is reduced during Q&As.

Stage

If presenters are expected to present from a stage, is this accessible? Does it involve steps and if so is there a ramp or an alternative way to access and exit it?

Lighting

Different types of lighting affect colours and contrasts which can be difficult for people with visual impairments and some flourescent lights create a magnetic field that can cause a hum in hearing aids. Flourescent lighting can also be difficult for people with sensory impairments.Is there a good level of lighting in potentially hazardous areas such as stair wells?Is the lighting in the venue controllable/adjustable in order to meet different needs?

Sound

Does the venue have a functioning hearing loop system? (Has this been tested?).
Is the sound system fit for purpose?
Are microphones available for speakers and the audience (for Q&As).
Are some spaces 'noisy' or echoey and if so are there other less noisy spaces that might be utilised? (Very noisy spaces are barriers for anyone with a hearing impairment or sensory processing difficulties)

Breaks

Are there sufficient scheduled breaks?
Are the spaces for breaks located close to the event spaces?
Is there a quiet room/space that neurodiverse people can access at any time?
Do people have long enough for a break (ie. people who might require additional time to go to the toilet or to move from one place to another)?

Evacuation

Is there an evacuation plan in place that meets the needs of disabled people? For instance, how will disabled people with impairments that require them to use lifts, evacuate the building if they are in rooms on upper floors?
If this requires personal emergency evacuation plans then how will these be produced and who will oversee them?
Have participants been given the information they require to stay safe in an accessible format?

Exits

Are exits clearly identified and accessible?

Feedback

Are methods for gathering feedback accessible? Do they ask specific questions about accessibility and inclusion?

Last updated: 16 February 2021