Maximise your event potential by making accessibility a priority so that everyone can attend and enjoy the experience.
Most people find event information and buy tickets online, but many websites are not user friendly for everyone. Consider your online experience from the perspective of older people, busy parents, and those with limited hand function who use a keyboard to navigate, or visually impaired guests who use screen reading technology and magnification tools. Here are some simple ways to make your site more accessible:
It's important to provide the opportunity for people to state they have an access need. Someone may request a large print schedule, a hearing-impaired guest may prefer to sit near a speaker or require a Sign Language interpreter, or someone using a power chair may require a wheelchair space in a theatre. It can be as simple as including a question on an online booking form, but by asking the question, the guest will feel valued and your staff will have time to meet their needs.
If a request seems complicated or needs specialist knowledge or equipment, contact the Be. Lab team.
Consider the event space and the ease in which people with access needs can enter and move around. Routes need to be wide enough to fit pushchairs and wheelchairs past each other, surfaces need to be slip resistant, and ramps and entrances must be open and clear. Also consider access to information desks, food counters and performance areas. Is there enough space for wheelchair users and parents with prams?
A queuing system is also a great idea for crowded areas. Finally, ensure you clearly identify accessible toilets and accessible entrances with a sticker or sign so people can easily find their way around.
Remember that not all guests will be able to see or hear speakers, stage performances and videos. It is important to consider how guests can engage with the event in different ways. This is an exciting opportunity to get creative and think outside the box! Plus, it will set your event apart from others. Here are some ideas:
We have so many other simple ideas that we would love to share with you. Contact the Be. Lab team for more.
Make your guests feel welcomed and valued by speaking directly to people with companions, such as those in wheelchairs or older people. It is important to not assume that people can’t speak for themselves. And try to face guests directly when speaking. Increasingly, more people have limited hearing and need to look at your face and lips as you talk.
Or go a step further and learn some New Zealand sign language! A basic sign such as “hello” or “welcome to the event” will go a long way to help deaf people feel welcomed. This simple gesture is not only fun to learn but can also generate loyal guests.
For more information on learning NZSL contact Deaf Aotearoa.
Check your brochures, flyers, schedules, menus and maps for font size and style. Most people need fonts to be at least 12 point and many prefer text to be even larger. A sans serif font style can be read most comfortably by everyone. Having a Braille version of key information on hand is a great idea too!
If a guest appears to be struggling to read something (such as a price on a blackboard menu) perhaps offer to read it out loud.
Particularly important at events in audience areas and food and beverage areas, consider whether yours eating and tables are appropriate for those with access needs. It is important to offer seats and tables of varying heights (or are height adjustable). They also need to be easily moved to create more space if required. Providing seating with armrests and backrests is helpful for older people, pregnant mums or anyone with balance or strength limitations.
If potential guests know you’re committed to accessibility, they will choose your event over others. Include descriptions of the accessible features and facilities of the event in your advertising, on your website and onsite.
And remember, you don’t have to be perfect! People understand that improving access takes time. The important thing is to be honest. If you don’t have wheelchair access to an accessible toilet for example it’s better to say so as it allows guests to make a plan. If you really want to show your commitment to being an accessible event, find out more about becoming Be. Lab Accredited.
Go the extra mile and have information available to provide guests on accessible hotels, restaurants, transport and attractions in your city. And make sure you know how to help if someone needs medical or health assistance, or where to send a visitor if their wheelchair has broken. People with access needs want to have an easy and enjoyable time at your event. So, let’s make that happen!