Planning an Accessible Event
Every type of program, meeting, exhibit, tour, and event, whether held for the NC State community or open to the public, must consider the access needs of persons with disabilities. This includes all NC State-sponsored activities held off-campus. There is also an obligation to ensure accessibility to events that are sponsored by an outside person or organization that is held at an NC State facility. If you are involved with coordinating the use of NC State facilities with outside groups, you should discuss whose responsibility it will be to ensure accessibility and accommodations. Agreements for using NC State facilities should clearly specify which party will assume responsibility for these obligations at the event.
The costs associated with disability access are considered part of the overall expense of the event. Event planners should include the expense of any anticipated accommodations as a budget item in the event planning. Most accommodations can be made at little or no cost, such as choosing a wheelchair accessible venue for the event. Accommodations such as sign language interpreting will incur a cost. Event planners who think the cost of the accommodations cannot be supported by the event should discuss alternative funding sources with their supervisor or advisor. Before denying any accommodation requests, event planners should consult with a member of OIED.
Event planners are responsible for planning and providing for the accessibility needs of participants with disabilities at any event sponsored on behalf of the University. Advance planning for accessibility will maximize the opportunity for all to participate and minimize the need for last-minute and perhaps costly changes. For instance, if an event requires bus transportation, there is no extra cost for requesting a wheelchair accessible bus in advance. If an accessible bus is not requested but a participant requires a wheelchair accessible bus, alternative transportation options will have to be provided and usually will not result in an equitable experience for the participant with a disability.
The following suggestions will help you plan an accessible event and be prepared for requests for disability accommodations and modifications. The ADA Coordinator Team is available to answer questions you may have about access or an individual’s request for accommodations. The DOJ has provided in-depth information about hosting accessible meetings.
Publicity and Pre-Registration
The key to making events accessible and meeting compliance obligations is to communicate well about access before the event. Include a disability accommodation statement that invites participants with disabilities to ask for accommodations in advance of the event in all pre-event publicity and registration materials. This will enable the event planner to arrange most of the accommodations and services in advance.
The disability accommodation statement should provide an event contact email and phone number. Sample statement:
“In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, NC State will honor requests for reasonable accommodations made by individuals with disabilities. Requests can be served more effectively if notice is provided at least 10 days before the event. Direct accommodation requests to _________________.”
Sample Registration Accommodation Checklist
I will need the following accommodations in order to participate:
- ASL Interpreter
- Communication Access in Real Time (CART services)
- Large print
- Wheelchair access
- Assistive Listening Device
- An Assistant will accompany me
- Closed captioned videos
Pre-registration for an event provides an opportunity for event planners to give more detail about their event. A comprehensive description of the event, including location, environmental conditions, services available, etc. will provide for the most effective planning. Information that is helpful to know is the distance to parking areas, the availability of transportation services, whether the venue is air-conditioned, if hearing assistive devices are available, scooter or wheelchair availability, and the availability of food options for persons with food allergies.
If an event includes overnight lodging, the event planner should investigate the accessibility features of the lodging.
During the Event
Event staff should be apprised of the general obligation to provide accommodation for people with disabilities. Staff should be prepared to offer assistance (directions for drop-off and accessible parking, seating or using the amenities of the building, etc.).