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What, why, how: Making your event accessible

How To, Equity Diversity & Inclusion

By What does it mean to plan an accessible event? Find out how you can ensure full inclusion for event and meeting attendees.

Whether planning a lecture series with 300 tickets or a meeting with six attendees, accessibility should always be a consideration.

What does it mean to plan an accessible event?

Planning an accessible event means:

  • anticipating that people with various types of disabilities (which may or may not be visible) might attend;
  • considering how you can minimize the number of barriers; and,
  • inviting participants to notify you of any possible accommodation needs in advance of the event.

This approach requires us to ask ourselves a number of questions, including:

  • Is the room accessible for someone using a wheelchair, walker or other assistive device?
  • How do I create a presentation that will be accessible to someone with vision loss?
  • How do I arrange for communication supports such as American Sign Language interpretation or captioning if required?

Why is accessible event planning important?

Ryerson University has a clearly articulated commitment to accessibility for all. If we don’t take a proactive approach to inclusion, we risk inadvertently excluding a person with a disability. Accommodation is often simple, inexpensive and ensures persons with disabilities have equal opportunity to fully participate in your event.

By creating an inclusive event from the start, you’re setting yourself ahead:

  • You reduce the need for individual accommodations which (while necessary) can be costly and time-consuming if done at the last minute.
  • You make the event more inclusive and accessible for all participants - whether they have identified a disability to you or not.

That being said, there may always be a need for some individual accommodation. Be sure to consult with your event participants directly to address their requests.

Ultimately, by ensuring full participation for a wider range of attendees you create a better experience for all.

Resources for creating accessible events

There are a number of resources related to accessibility available on the Tools and Resources page of the Accessibility website.

  • Check out the Accessible Event Planning checklist (PDF) for simple, straightforward tips like:
    • Anticipate priority seating requirements for people with physical and sensory disabilities.
    • Make sure accessible washrooms are available within a reasonable distance.
    • Encourage presenters to offer copies of their material in different formats before their presentation starts.
    • Request that speakers briefly describe what’s on their PowerPoint slides instead of assuming people can see them.
  • For information specific to planning an accessible meeting, check out How to Run Accessible Meetings.
  • For larger events, see A Planning Guide for Accessible Conferences by the Council of Ontario Universities and the Guide to Festivals and Outdoor Events by the Government of Ontario.

Questions on accessibility at Ryerson

For more information or to provide feedback about accessibility at Ryerson, contact Heather Willis, accessibility coordinator, at 416-979-5000, ext. 4144 or hwillis@ryerson.ca.