5 ways to make your events accessible that you may have missed
Build in consistent breaks
We all enjoy a little break to get a cuppa, but building in consistent breaks is about more than getting your refill of conference biscuits (oat for me!): it is the only way for safe attendance for many. Consistant and on schedule breaks allow for safe toilet breaks for individuals with bowel issues or individuals on their periods; it allows for timely administration of life-saving medicine; and consistant food and drink intakes that can be vital to keeping energy levels for many. Keep your breaks on time!
Plan for inclusive activities
A lot of museums and heritage venues provide fun activities for kids and adults, but most of them require some physical dexterity. Adult events especially can be quite competititive on the creative side, and often miss out on the fact that many struggle with hand dexterity, or standing and walking for a long time. Inclusive activities that do not require physical dexterity allow more to participate; and if you're not convinced yet, just think about how much income is lost in heritage sites every year due to lack of inclusion (spoiler: it's a lot!)
To tour or not to tour
Museums and heritage tours are great ways to learn from experts, and sometimes they are the only way to visit a place, due to safety reasons for the space and its visitors. But they are often a built-in barrier for disabled visitors. Offer the option to not join tours when possible: self guided, at own pace, without information overload. If you need to do tours, work with disabled individuals with lived experience to design accessible tours (accessibility isn't just about whether your tour is wheelchair accessible, it's also about the amount of information delivered, the pace and the energy required)
Limit number of attendees
Great number of visitors and attendees means the event was a success, right? But what if your high number means excluding a portion of the population, is that truly success? Between safety worries related to airborne illnesses such as Covid, sensory overload, safety risks with overcrowding for individuals with hypermobility and Ehlers Danlos, or navigating crowds with mobility aids, keeping numbers low(er) is also accessibility.
It's in the bag!
Many heritage places do not allow for bags to be kept with the visitor / user, for the safety of the space and the artefacts. You might think that your conference and event would be a lot less crowded, and a lot more pleasant without bags around. Making individuals keep their bags and coats/ jackets in lockers far away from your event room is an accessibility issue: many require medicine, water, snacks and warm layers on hand, as their body temperature and energy fluctuates. Having stuff locked away creates added anxiety. Just look at our flat lays and you'll undertstand why!