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Diversity-Equity-Inclusion

How to Maximize Event Accessibility

Maximizing event accessibility has many benefits.

By accommodating everybody, including those with invisible disabilities, you make your events more comfortable, increase your reach, and create a premium environment.

  • Planning
  • Event design
  • Technology

Event planners work magic behind the scenes. They pull everything together to create an exciting, welcoming environment.

Diversity and inclusion work best when they are a part of the planning process. ​

〰PLANNING〰

Make guest accommodations friendly to people with disabilities, including those with ‘hidden’ disabilities. Most U.S. hotels, motels, inns, etc. include accommodations that are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. In fact, all accommodations designed or constructed after January 26, 1993 are required to be ADA compliant.

Make it easy for your attendees from the start! Provide them with an accessibility statement and point of contact in event announcements and invitations. Include clear instructions on how to request accommodations. You’ll want to clarify deadlines for requests for special accommodations and avoid disappointment or avoid confusion. (Scroll to the end for two examples!)

Share details about lodging and transportation accessibility with out-of-town guests.

〰EVENT DESIGN〰

The best event designs unify and refine your event. You’ll want to make sure that acoustics, lighting, and climate all contribute to making your event as comfortable and inviting as possible–for everyone.

Prioritize details that contribute to guests’ ability to see, hear, and fully participate in your event. Thoughtful seating arrangements, unobtrusive decor, and easily available information all help create a supportive environment. Take it a step further and add personalized event entertainment to ensure that ALL of your guests are able to participate in your event. Strolling entertainers make accessibility a breeze for those with mobility impairments–the entertainment comes to you!

〰TECHNOLOGY〰

If you use visual or auxiliary elements (for example a slideshow or speaker), share a list of  additional services, assistive technology, or accommodations that you are able to provide.

Some examples:

●  American Sign Language interpreters

●  CART services (Real time closed-captioning is more accurate than computer generated captions)

●  Visual and auxiliary aids

●  Assistive communication devices

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FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

FedEx Small Business Grant

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest has launched and I am so happy to share that we were selected as part of it! Please vote for us and help us win so we can help you stay connected! You can vote once a day (every day!) between March 10-24, 2021.

Thank you so much! Share with your colleagues, friends, and family!

VOTE HERE!

Some of the ways we would use this grant are:

Training and hiring more people with physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities

Continue building more activations like our Contact-Free Entertainer Booth launching more of our ‘Good Cops’ (ask us!)

Hybrid Lip Kits to keep you and your loved ones safe and happy, either virtually, or as part of your in-person event!

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Pride Weekend

Pride Weekend & National Coming Out Day

Reflections at the conclusion of Pride Weekend & National Coming Out Day 2020.

As a cishet white female married to a cishet white man and mother of two cishet children, why would I a) join what was formerly known as the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; and b) why would I become an Ambassador?

At first I was puzzled by some of the looks I got when I introduced myself as straight—furrowed brows and all. In the interim, I’ve learned that there is a sense of apprehension. “Wait—she’s straight—why’s she here?”

I’m a member of the OUT Georgia Business Alliance because I can be. The shocking discrimination I’ve seen aimed at the LGBTQ+ community, family and friends, acquaintances, business partners, colleagues, and people I’ve known is a sickness that hurts and kills people. Ignore it? Never. What can I do? Let it begin with me.

Having community that has your back is crucial. For me, showing up, bearing witness, and speaking out are on par with how I try to live my life and how I’ve tried to raise my family.

It’s easy, way too easy, to live in a bubble. To not see the tear-stained faces of kids being rejected for being who they are, to see people denied access to resources and basic human rights because of how they identify and who they love hurts every one of us. If we believe for a minute that denying equal access and equal rights to any other individual or group while we ourselves enjoy these privileges will help us, we are delusional.

 Despite what people think, I am really uncomfortable in big crowds, particularly outdoors. But every time I am able to march on Pride Weekend & honor National Coming Out Day, I do it. It’s one tiny thing I can do that helps make the world a little bit safer and a lot more welcoming for all of us.

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Group at formal corporate event

Thoughtful Seating

How We Can Put Thoughtful Seating in Events

Thoughtful seating is an important part of events. It is the awareness of where we are seated and why, and the social, political, and economic impact of where we are. Are you really at the table? Did you choose your table or were you seated at it? The same thing goes for your seatmates, the proximity or distance you have to each other, and where your table is located in the grand scheme of things. 

It Boils Down to Making Everybody Feel Welcomed

When you are beginning to plan your event, see how you can show guests how much you appreciate them by making them feel truly welcome. Events are where you can make inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility shine!

Putting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in your Events

Planners tend to set up a floor plan based on space and available furniture. That completely makes sense. Unless, of course, you have the means to base your design and seating arrangements on your guests’ needs, your priorities, and helping everyone feel included.

Informal events tend to be laissez-faire—more along the lines of musical chairs (think—who nabs the seat close to the dessert table?) Do good by doing it well–make sure that attendees are able to participate fully in the entire event.

Leveling the Playing Field for All Kinds of Diversity

Corporate events are intentionally more result-oriented. Who are the participants and what is the objective of the event: a meeting; presentation; awards ceremony; celebration;  conference, trade show, or break-out social time?

Social events can include a wide range of ages. Whether the guests are related (weddings, family reunions), a cohort (graduations, Bar- and Bat Mitzvahs), or loosely connected (birthdays, anniversaries, showers), there will be a scatter and a concentration. Maybe a large number of your guests work in the same field, or live in the same city or region, maybe they share a hobby, religion, or belong to a certain age group. Use this to your advantage when planning—chose to mix it up, or choose to set up groups of like-minded folks—just don’t make your seating arrangements based on alphabetization!

Accessibility is Frequently Overlooked at Events

One thing I repeatedly notice is how difficult it can be for people to hear each other at events—even on a good day and without a DJ or loud speaker next to them! You can absolutely take this into consideration when planning where to put people—those who want to talk (and hear) might be further away from the loudspeakers.

Consider the Needs of People with Disabilities

How many of your guests have mobility challenges or need frequent access to the restroom? Do you have anyone who has sensory or audio processing issues? How about very tall people, or the inverse, and what affect that can have on your sight lines? Accessibility plays a greater role than you realize. So many people have hidden disabilities that impact their participation and enjoyment of your event. Their decision on whether or not to attend might be dependent on whether accommodations are offered or if they have to request them.

Traditionally people are seated according to their position in business or in a family. Make sure that those people on the fringe can see and hear, too.

Create Meaningful Interactions

You might consider using more and smaller tables to increase interaction. A six-top is definitely more conducive to getting people to interact with each other than a 10-top or a banquet table. Although banquet tables can help people get to know their dinner partners, it can be a long, arduous evening if they can’t (or won’t) communicate!

Look at some of the ways you can facilitate meaningful, memorable, and creative interactions at your event. Enhance everyone’s enjoyment of the entire experience by creating thoughtful seating.

 

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