Hosting Accessible Public Events
This checklist is intended to help you host accessible and inclusive public events. It is not difficult to plan events for people of all abilities, ages, body types, and genders. Simply plan ahead and be flexible.
The NWT Human Rights Act outlines equality rights and accommodation responsibilities in the NWT. Everyone has a right to participate in their community. Groups have a responsibility to include people based on the areas and grounds in the Act. The best way to promote accessibility is to think about inclusion.
Accessibility includes physical access, access to services, social inclusion, equality, respect, and equity in opportunity.
Three things to keep in mind when hosting a community event:
- Remove physical barriers and possible hazards so people can move around a space safely
- Treat people with respect; value each person’s self-respect and self-worth.
- Provide people with information about the accessibility of your space, how you will accommodate people, and who they should contact if they have questions or specific needs.
This checklist is intended as a guideline only. If you have any questions about your rights or responsibilities under the NWT Human Rights Act, please contact us.
Inclusion means all people have the opportunity to participate fully in political, cultural, civic and economic life. When planning your event think about how you can address issues of safety and accessibility. Look for possible barriers and think about how you can prepare staff, presenters and volunteers to be flexible to people’s specific needs.
- Can you work with someone who has experience planning accessible events?
- Do you have enough time to arrange accommodations and make space accessible?
- Is accessible transit available to get people to and from your event?
- Can a person get from the street or parking lot to an accessible area at the main entrance?
- Can people with low vision read your signs? Signs should have large type, high contrast, and icons to direct people to your event.
- Has anyone asked for an accommodation that would require an interpreter, hearing loop, or audio system?
- Have you told presenters what supports people with disabilities may need to be included in all activities?
- Have you trained your staff and volunteers on how to respectfully include all people with disabilities?
The most accessible formats for documents:
- Text documents should be in MS-WORD format (plain .docx is preferred over .pdf)
- PDF documents should be in accessible text format rather than a scanned image
- Videos should be captioned for people with hearing disabilities and descriptive narration should be provided for people with low vision
Documents include invitations, agendas, registration forms, presentations, promotional materials and feedback sheets. Any materials that will be given out to participants should be prepared in an accessible electronic format.
- Are all of your invites, registration forms, handouts, etc. in accessible formats?
- Are online materials, websites, or presentations available in accessible formats?
Posting your content online:
- Use the HTML format as your default
(copy the content directly to your website)
- Use a downloadable WORD format
- Use accessible PDF format if desired
When you send out the invitation or notice, include a welcome message to let people know how you will accommodate their needs, what accessibility features are available, and how they can contact the planner with specific questions.
- Have you let people know what accessibility features are available for your event?
- Have you advertised an active accommodation offer with contact information?
Whether your registrations are on paper or online, follow best practices for creating simple, readable forms. Plain language, large type and high contrast help make them easier to see. Make space on forms for people to add special requests so you can meet everyone’s needs.
- Does your registration form include all genders?
- Is your form available in other languages, online,
or in large type?
- Have you provided contact information for the event organizer or person in charge of making accommodations?
- Have you given people a chance to identify allergies or request possible food service alternatives? (buffet etc.)
- Have you given people a chance to ask for other accommodations?
When visiting your meeting or event space, think accessibility. Think about people with impaired sight or hearing, people with mobility issues, people with sensory issues, people who need service dogs or adaptive devices, families with children, and people of different ages and genders. All participants should feel comfortable and ready to be engaged in the event.
- Have you done a site visit or called the site to go over the checklist with you?
- Are there enough accessible parking spaces?
- Does the main door or another door have an automatic door opener?
- Are the lobby and halls wide enough for wheelchairs and other mobility devices to move and turn around easily?
- Will mobility devices fit in the elevator?
- Have you checked halls, stairwells, and emergency exits to make sure they aren’t blocked?
- Is there snow, construction, or anything else that might make it hard to get into the event?
- Do the washroom doors have automatic door openers or open entrances?
- Is the entry into the washroom wide enough for a mobility device?
- Are the washrooms and accessible stalls large enough for scooters or other devices?
- Do accessible stalls have grab bars and raised toilets?
- Can the taps, soap, garbage, paper towels, and hand dryers be reached by someone in a wheelchair?
- Are there gender-neutral, single-use, accessible washrooms available?
- For longer events, do you know what options are available for accessible hotel rooms, transportation, and emergency vet services?
Go to your event space early and make sure your plan is in place. Make sure that access to event space and washrooms is barrier-free. Confirm other details like food allergens, quiet spaces, and special requests. Check. Check. Double check.
- Is the room is set up to ensure there are no barriers for mobility devices?
- Is there a seating area set up near the front for people who have disabilities?
- Are the automatic door openers working? If not, can the doors be propped open?
- Is the stage or speaking area, including the podium and microphone, accessible to people using wheelchairs and scooters?
- Could the cables, wires and microphones create a tripping hazard?
- Is there background noise that might make it hard to hear a speaker or presentation?
- Can you dim bright lights or use blinds or drapes to cover glare from windows?
- Have you gone over emergency escape plans for people with disabilities?
- Have you asked presenters to check with the audience about needs for breaks?
- Have people had a chance to give feedback about the accessibility of your event?
- How might you improve accessibility for future events?
MORE INFORMATION ON ACCESSIBILITY
Event Planning Checklists
Accessibility Support Organizations
NWT Disabilities Council
Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)
Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA)