Planning an accessible and inclusive event
Has an overall event plan been developed?
- developing an event plan ensures the access needs of a range of organisers and visitors are considered from an early stage. Planning the event with these needs in mind will provide a better chance of making the event accessible and welcoming and significantly reduce the potential for future problems and unintended discrimination to occur.
- retrofitting solutions as an afterthought can be more expensive and time consuming.
- accessibility supports need to be organised and scheduled in advance. For example, booking an Auslan interpreter, sourcing a portable ramp, converting materials into alternative accessible formats.
- develop a plan that provides a timeline for preparation, execution, windup and evaluation, and covers all contingencies (sometimes called a run sheet)
- pull together an event team
- consider defining the purpose of the event, the size of the event, the target audience, potential location and what might be included and excluded
- determine the budget and sources of funding, staffing, safety, security and emergency procedures, stakeholder engagement, hiring of equipment, catering, marketing, design and communications
- registrations and ticketing (remember to consider privacy and security of information)
- engaging/contracting presenters, and interpreters and Aboriginal elders to provide a Welcome to Country.
This toolkit does not cover all aspects of event planning
With each element of planning, consideration for those with disability must be included, particularly relating to safety, security and emergency procedures. You will also want to:
- ensure overall inclusiveness (refer to the introduction to this toolkit), and
- acknowledge and engage with the traditional custodians on the land on which you intend to hold your event.
Have people with lived experience of disability been included in the planning?
People with disability can help you to:
- choose an accessible location or venue to hold an event
- design an accessible layout including entrances and exits
- advise on accessible and inclusive marketing and promotions, equipment, lighting, sound and many other aspects of an event.
Consider who these people might be as well as representing a range of different visitors. You will hear something different from a wheelchair user and a person with autism. Some different groups to consider are:
- Cognitive – including neurodiverse
- Older adults
- Parents with children
As you work your way through this guideline you will see different aspects of planning where the experience and knowledge of people with lived experience can help. Further information can be found in the Engagement and Consultation with People Living with Disability toolkit.
Have people with lived experience of disability been involved in organising the event?
People with disability can assist with auditing the setup and layout of the event or be employed in the set up.
Has consideration been given to broader inclusivity?
Do not overlook other areas of diversity. The event also needs to be inclusive of people from diverse cultural backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people from LGBTIQA+ communities. The intersectionality between disability and other areas of diversity create overlapping risk for bias, discrimination and disadvantage.
Have accessibility supports been budgeted for?
Allow for inclusion and accessibility requirements such as web design, transport, ramps, wayfinding signs, lighting, sound and accessible toilets, and live captioning for both in person and virtual events.
Has event timing taken accessibility into account?
When planning, consider the days of the week, times of the day, event length and opportunities for breaks that make the event more accessible and inclusive.
Is marketing material accessible?
All marketing material, regardless of the marketing channel (for example, social media, printed flier or digital advertisement) must be easy to understand and in accessible formats. Further information can be found in the Accessible communication toolkit.
Making documents and designs as accessible as possible will reduce demand for special accessible versions. You should:
- write in plain language
- write as concisely as possible
- make your design as legible as possible, using clear graphics and well-contrasted colours throughout the designs
- use a minimum 12-point sans serif font, such as Arial or Helvetica
- include image description for photos, floorplans, diagrams and maps.
Other items to consider include:
- providing a contact name, phone and email details for event enquiries relating to accessibility
- ensuring promotional material can be accessed with accessible software (such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, captions or audio descriptions).
Are alternative formats available?
People with some types of visual impairments, learning disabilities, dexterity or literacy difficulties (such as dyslexia) are likely to have difficulty accessing information in written text – even in the largest font size.
To reach your entire audience, you will need to consider other accessible formats (also known as alternative formats) that meet your audience’s needs in addition to making your initial materials more accessible. Alternative formats can include large print, braille, electronic text tactual graphics.
Some formats suit one person more than another [i]:
- Alternatives to visual materials: audio, audio description, braille, telephone, large print
- Alternatives to audio materials: Auslan, Makaton, subtitling, textphone, SMS National Relay Service.
- Extra options for people with learning disabilities or low English literacy: audio, audio description, easy read, easy access, Makaton, subtitles, video
You should also consider any preferences your target audience may have for receiving information, for example, younger Deaf people may respond better to an SMS message than sub-titled advert. Researching your audience will help you best meet their needs.
You will need to supply alternative formats and languages upon request. Include contact details so people can make such requests.
Further resources on accessible communication formats
- Accessible communication guidelines (Government of South Australia).
- Guidance on accessible communication formats (UK Government)
- How to make social media accessible: Our top three tips (Vision Australia)
- Two-Way Street.
Sample communication board
Does marketing material include accessibility information relating to the event?
Materials need to include detailed information on what will be available and what has been done at the event and venue to make it accessible.
Types of information to include are:
- Mobility map
- Accessible parking, drop-off and public transport
- Accessible pathways around the venue
- Accessible toilets including changing places, baby change
- Accessible facilities, quiet room, access for assistance animals
- Technical facilities, wi-fi, Public Address systems, hearing augmentation, video conferencing
- Accessible furniture and equipment
- Catering, food and beverages
- Companion card honoured
- Customer assistance
- Emergency evacuation
- Image descriptions on visuals.
Does the site map and program highlight accessibility?
A well-marked simple site map highlighting aspect of accessibility is important. This will include information on pathways, signage, times, access to sites/events/ locations, accessible toilets and access to catering. A well laid out program, consistent with accessible communication guidelines is important.
The program should include disability information such as seating options for people using wheelchairs or with other mobility aids. Deaf or hard of hearing people will need to be seated as close as possible to interpreters.
Is the event website WCAG 2.1 compliant?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) makes online content and information accessible and is widely available to government agencies and local councils. It is good practice to have website information that outlines everything to create an accessible and inclusive event.
Further resource on online accessibility
Have you considered using assistive technology?
There are many different assistive technologies that can help improve event accessibility. Exploring assistive technologies to support those who provide their accessibility needs in their event registration should be considered. These include:
- Mobility devices such as wheelchairs and scooters
- Computer access to large key keyboards and mouse alternatives
- Hearing amplifiers
- Screen reader support
- Communication boards
- Closed captioning services
- Aira service or BindiMaps for navigation.