Accessibility Tools

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Events such as conferences, festivals, award ceremonies and seminars are a big part of doing business today. As an organiser of these events, no matter how big or small, provision needs to be made to ensure accessibility and inclusion for all. We also discuss COVID-safe event planning.

What is Inclusive event planning about?

Events such as conferences, festivals, award ceremonies and seminars are a big part of doing business today. As an organiser of these events, no matter how big or small, provision needs to be made to ensure accessibility and inclusion for all. Not only is accessibility a requirement by law, but with millions of people in Australia living with a disability - it should also be an important commercial consideration.

Accessibility goes beyond physical considerations (although these are essential) and all elements of the event and each guest touchpoint needs to be considered. National independent disability information service, IDEAS, is an organisation committed to serving people living with a disability to access the information, support and advocacy they need to live a full life and this includes how they navigate attendance to/at and from events in their communities.

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As a start, below are six areas where accessibility is extremely important:

Venue choice

Venues should be fully accessible and a continuous accessible path of travel to and around all areas, services and elements of the event location needs to be provided. It is important to consider your guest's door-to-door experience in the venue choice, and when designing the event.

Inviting guests

Ask guests what their needs and preferences are; for example, dietary and specific access requirements. These questions can be included in the ticketing process or an RSVP. Make the RSVP process easy - think about alternative ways people can respond.

Customer service

One of the key things people remember - and talk about after - is how they were made to feel at the event. Welcoming, positive, can-do attitudes of the staff go a long way in making people included.

Reception and customer service counters should include a lower section for people using wheelchairs; a quiet room or chill out space can be a valuable addition to any event for attendees sensitive to noise or crowds.

Clear signage

Use clear simple language, appropriate internationally recognised symbols and place signs at points where directional decisions are made.

PossABLE signage

Think about alternative ways people communicate - use of braille or tactile signage could be considered.

Audio Visual

If your event features a live performance, film or presentation, consider the different ways people hear and see things.

Think about including Auslan interpreters or live captioning. Use consistent lighting in all areas of the venue and always avoid strobe/flashing lights.

Good marketing

It is no use having an accessible event if no one knows it's accessible. People with disability and mobility limitations rarely attend events without significant research and planning. All marketing should state that the event is inclusive and list key accessibility features.

Websites should provide a comprehensive listing of accessibility features, facilities and services. It should also clearly state whether public transport options close to the venue are accessible. If there is an accessible drop-off zone and/or accessible parking.

COVID Safe practices

Each State and Territory issues guidelines and restrictions for holding a COVID safe event. Check for regulations through the Australian Government which links to each state or territory for the latest information. 

It is important to monitor restrictions for your area and follow state or federal guidelines on the number of attendees, square metre rules, mask-wearing, covid registration and check-in. Check-in needs to consider the needs of all attendees, and you should also include non-digital and inclusive entry registrations, such as paper-based registrations, as best practice. Businesses should adopt accessible and inclusive practices in actioning Covid-19 check-in standards so that all members of the community are considered. Your state or territory may also have a QR Check-in as part of their COVID-Safe requirements. See also NSW and QR codes and QLD Check-In for information on these states.

A COVID marshall can be on hand to assist people with blindness, vision impairment or other access needs to navigate the check-in process or complete the check-in on their behalf.

Some state and territories require you to complete a COVID-Safe Plan (sometimes called a COVID Safe Management Plan) before the event. 

Indoor and outdoor events may have guidelines regarding seating. 

IDEAS is an organisation that serves people with disabilities to help them live full, independent lives with information and education.

We can work in partnership with you and your business to ensure events are accessible and inclusive for all.

Find and follow us on:

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LinkedIn IDEAS Australia 
Twitter @IDEASAU

IDEAS does information so you can do life.