Accessible Events

Accessibility Checklist for Grinnell College Events


Informational Environment

  • Ensure publications (e.g., programs) are available in alternate formats upon request by including a statement that provides multiple forms of contact information, such as: “This publication is available in alternate formats upon request. Please contact (name, phone number, and email)”. This should be the event coordinator.
  • Provide materials in electronic form to all participants prior to the meeting/event.
  • Create marketing materials using a sans serif font (e.g.: Arial, Calibri, Tahoma) that is no smaller than size 14.
  • Ensure all videos/films are shown with closed or open captions.
  • Ensure assistive listening headsets/receivers are available in rooms with assistive listening devices (ALDs).
  • Advertise in multiple ways (e.g., posters, e-mails, memo, etc.) to provide people with multiple ways of learning about the event.

Attitudinal Environment

  • Always use person-first language when speaking to or referring to individuals with disabilities.
  • Presenters, facilitators, speakers, etc., should always introduce themselves to attendees and face the audience when speaking.
  • Use the same considerations in this checklist if planning post-event activities, off-site trips, overnight stays, or if the event will be moving around campus (such as residence halls, restaurants, recreation rooms, etc.).
  • Develop program using the concepts of Universal Design (see Universal Design worksheet)

Physical Environment

Event Location:

  • Events must be scheduled in an accessible location, with directional signage (either in the building or supplemental signage) to all event or meeting locations. Accessibility requirements must be checked for all areas, which may include elevators, entrances, parking, restrooms, and seating.
  • Choose a facility with power door access if possible.
  • Ensure paths of travel to event rooms and rest rooms are accessible.
  • Confirm that requested accommodations are provided (e.g. sign language interpreters, closed captioning, etc.).
  • If seating is provided, seating placement should be considered (e.g., near the interpreter or in the front for those with sensory disabilities), and wheelchair and companion seating should be dispersed in multiple locations.
  • If a stage or platform is used, be sure it is accessible and on an accessible route, and provide a temporary ramp or portable wheelchair lift if needed.
  • Position displays or exhibits to provide an accessible route to navigate the space.
  • If a microphone or dais is provided for participation, be certain it is accessible.
  • Ensure that all participants use the microphone and use proper microphone etiquette (e.g., speaking directly into the microphone, waiting to speak until they have a microphone, etc.)
  • Ensure there is adequate lighting for persons with low vision or if a sign language interpreter is used.

Food and Drink:

  • Provide attendees with the opportunity to request alternate options if they have allergies or food sensitivities. Have ingredients and nutrition facts available to inform decisions.
  • If food and/or drink are provided, ensure tables are less than 34” high and items are within reach.  Self-service items must be reachable from a seated position with accessible operating mechanisms.
  • Include additional space for individuals using wheelchairs if using banquet style seating.

Emergency Planning:

  • Identify exits clearly and be sure they are accessible.
  • Ensure fire and emergency alarms have both audible and visual signals.
  • Identify areas of refuge for individuals who may require rescue assistance.

Adapted from: AASE & Smith, ACCESSIBILITY CHECKLIST, 1990;    Cornell University, Student Disability Services, Check List for Planning Accessible Events, 2013; and City of Santa Rosa, CA, ADA Checklist for Special Events – taken from the Grinnell College Disability Resources page.


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Closed Captioning for Events

Disability Etiquette