Creating Accessible Events

As an event production company, TSV is constantly reminded of ways we can help increase accessibility for attendees at the events we work on. Set design, A/V and other aspects of production can ensure that your event is equally enjoyed by everyone and that attendees feel comfortable, regardless of any disability or special need.

It has become common practice, prior to an event, to incorporate a section on a registration page or invitations, to ask guests to specify any dietary restrictions or other special requests. This same process can be used to find out what accommodations attendees with disabilities might require. By doing this, you can remove chairs from tables before guests arrive for those in wheelchairs, or seat those who are hard of hearing or visually-impaired closest to the stage. Assigned seating, depending on your event, could also help with this accommodation, and avoid any potential complications on the day of.

The next thing to consider is the actual setup and design of your event. Some things to include here would be:

  • Proper signage leading to event space/bathrooms/important locations.

  • Flat screen monitors outside of session rooms to display and voice titles and times

  • Human way finders to help guests find room/seats/exits.

  • Ensuring that isles are an adequate size for attendees with wheelchairs, scooters, crutches and service dogs to comfortably move through.

  • Tables that are an accessible height for everyone on your guest list.

  • Staging and stage-design should include ramp access (ADA-compliant) and a sufficient amount of space on stage for presenters who use wheelchairs, scooters or crutches.

  • ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters to guarantee that attendees who are deaf or hearing-impaired can get the most out of presentations and performances.

Live shot of interpreter during a presentation

(Live shot of interpreter during a presentation)

  • Interpreters displayed on projection screens/flat screen monitors as part of the event’s main video program and having a spotlight on them so they are visible to attendees no matter where they are in the room. You also need to ensure that the interpreter can hear every presenter or performer, so that they can do their job effectively.

  • Closed captioning on all videos and presentations for attendees who are hearing-impaired with font that is clear and large, for those who may be visually-impaired.

Closed captioning during a video presentation

(Closed captioning during a video presentation)

As you can see, production can help give a complete event experience to attendees with special needs. Quality audio/video/lighting equipment and knowledgeable on-site technical support will ensure that everything is executed properly. Some other creative, yet simple ways of incorporating A/V to increase accessibility for attendees include:

  • Creating a light show to correspond with music, so that every attendee can feel included even if they are hearing-impaired

  • Adequate lighting conditions, for those who may be reading lips or focusing on an interpreter

  • Being mindful of excessive lighting for attendees who may be prone to seizures, migraines or who are sensitive to light

  • Large and clear video displays (projection/flat screens/etc.) can be a huge help for audience members and their visual needs
  • Clear, dynamic sound that is loud enough for everyone in attendance to hear clearly

Again, you can learn more about the specific needs of your guests during the registration process. From there, you can work with your A/V vendor to find that balance, and still offer a great experience for everyone in attendance.

There are many ways to increase accessibility that this blog doesn’t mention, but that are just as critical to attendee experience, so before your event, do research and work with your venue, vendors and event staff to be as accommodating as possible.

The TSV team is lucky enough to work with organizations such as Paraquad and DEAF Inc. who work every day to make the world a more accessible place and help teach us how to increase accessibility at events. For more ways on how to make every unique attendee feel represented and included read our blog, "The Future Is Inclusive And Events Should Be Too."