Taking the necessary measures to ensure your association’s event accommodates everyone in attendance creates a positive attendee experience and promotes inclusion within your community.
Below are some examples of measures that venues can take when hosting an event with people with disabilities. Some of the measures may vary by venue and layout, and suggesting an accessibility audit be completed can help determine the specific measures for each venue.
- Provide Braille labels to indicate building numbers and room numbers.
- Ensure key access points to each building have Braille labels for instructions on after hour access.
- Place straps on all gate handles for additional assistance with gate openings.
- Place plastic runners on the bottom floor of buildings from doorway to doorway to assist those who are legally blind and visually-impaired with a transition for getting around. Runners should be checked each day at 7:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. to be sure they are straight and not buckling.
- Place runners at the front of the exhibit hall to indicate the start of each row. Runners should be checked each day at 7:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. to be sure they are straight and not buckling.
- Place transitions between the guest room buildings and meeting space entrance to help navigate.
- Place stop signs in any traffic ways that need to be crossed.
- Add additional parking spaces at each building with signage for disabled parking.
- Create service animal relief areas near the guest room buildings and meeting space. (Be sure to include trash cans and doggie pick-up bags near the space).
- Set up at least two areas to serve as charging stations for power chairs/wheelchairs.
- Reiterate to staff the need to be on extra alert to guests and their special needs during pre-shift meetings.
- Have extra staff at the front desk on major arrival days to accommodate for attendees with special needs.
- Prop open large doors that are heavy or difficult to operate for the duration of the conference.
- Turn down music to a reasonable level to help avoid distractions.
- Create a barrier to avoid guests walking under/running into stairs.
- Follow any special requests noted on reservations.
- Tape or hole-punch the key for visually impaired guests at check-in to help them determine the direction to insert key.
- Station ambassadors in the lobby to assist guests with questions or assist with elevators.
- For attendees that have requested Braille information, provide a directory upon check-in that contains the hotel information.
- Brief venue attendants on the nature of group to be on alert for guest assistance.
- Block attendees in towers closest to the convention center and provide assistance in getting anyone who needs it to their room after checking in.
- In all roll-in shower rooms or rooms that have hand held showerheads, place the showerheads out of the hanger before check-in and after servicing of the room, so guest does not need to call for assistance.
- Remove any soaps or amenities that are usually placed on back of toilet.
- Place stacks of paper towels on vanities of all restrooms for additional ease of use.
- Prop open restroom doors when there is no line of sight.
- Provide step stools for each restroom and place at each vanity.
- Have Braille and large print menus on-hand at all outlets.
- Provide Braille hotel directories.
- Provide room service Braille menus to those that have made the request for Braille information.
Remember: If something has been set in place as their check-in begins, it will need to remain the same until checkout! (Example: Furniture in the lobby should not be moved throughout stay. The guests will learn the “lay of the land” on their check-in day and will remember certain elements of their travels as landmarks.)
Sara Haukup is an event director in the Event Services unit at Smithbucklin.