Accessibility: Physical Participation, See/Hear, Understand
An accessible event attends to three important characteristics: pysical participation, see/hear, comprehension. In other words, are people able to get into and move around the space, are they able to receive the information, and are they able to understand it? Disabling aspects of the environment is more than a lack of ramp or elevator alternative to stairs. It also refers to cramped seating that impedes wheelchair users, people who need to move around a bit, someone who is blind and uses a white cane or service dog to move around. It also refers to access to the information shared. This refers to being able to interact with it as it is presented or shared in handouts or on a website. It also refers to comprehension. Is the language understandable? For example, font size and color are important considerations in handouts and on slides and accessibility via screen reader and audio files are important considerations. More on this below in accessibility information.
Be Prepared – Planning Ahead In Registration Process: What to Ask
- Do you need handouts in an alternative format? Large print (San serif font such as Ariel, 17 or larger)?
- Do you need the slides ahead of time digitally? Individuals who are blind or have low vision will typically prefer accessing through the screen reader on their computer during the presentation. (See Preparing Accessible Presentation for more information)
- Providing handouts earlier limits your need for printing and also benefits individuals who are blind or have low vision, or need more time to process information. (See Preparing Accessible Presentation)
- Do you need an interpreter or captioning?
- Do you need to sit up front for better hearing and/or reading lips? [Or does facility have a hearing loop system?]
- Do you need physical mobility assistance? Do you use a wheelchair, cane, walker, scooter, etc?
- Do you need note taking assistance?
- Do you communicate better with pictures and stories? In this case it will help to have an additional ‘recorder’ at the table. If possible, this is someone from the parish that knows the person, such as a catechist, or who knows them in some other way. A teen leader could be very good at this also, as well as an educator or education student in the parish.
- If the above, it could be good for this recorder to listen and talk with the person to the side first, before sharing with the group. Another possibility is to meet at another time or before the meeting begins to start the process of sharing.
- Do you have food or environmental allergies?
- Is there anything else we should know?
Building Accessibility – Can people get into the building and move around it?
Are there designated disability parking spaces and drop off location near the entrance? Is the parking area uncluttered and have curb cutouts, appropriate lighting to see at night? Is there clear signage for entrance, exit, restrooms? Are the restrooms accessible to wheelchair users? Is there a ramp or elevator for people who can’t use stairs?
Room Layout – Is it laid out so people can move easily and safely throughout it?
It is recommended to have room layout such that people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices and people who are blind can move through the gathering space and have choices of where to sit. It is recommended that side aisles are at least 60” and inner aisles at least 36” and are free of chairs, power chords, etc. Seating should allow for mixed seating and personal preference. For example, don’t designate a specific table or area for wheelchair users.
Designate at least one greeter who can assist anyone who needs a chair moved to allow space for their wheelchair or service dog.
Best Practices for Planning Accessible Events and Presentations
ADA National Network: A Planning Guide for Making Temporary Events Accessible to People With Disabilities, Printer-friendly PDF and Large Print PDF. Click here to access the Planning Guide.