Why have accessible events?

Thank you for your interest in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion with the information in this guide! It offers background and action steps centering the experience of people with disabilities. All sections address both barriers to and solutions for events for individuals with disabilities. 

Disability is a natural part of human diversity.

1 in 4 adults in the U.S. (61 million people) have a disability (Okoro et al., 2016). Unfortunately, people with disabilities are commonly discriminated against. This is called ableism. Ableism intersects with other forms of oppression. Ibram X. Kendi notes that ableism and racism are roots of the same tree. Remember, there is also great diversity among people with disabilities.

Disability is part of the equity equation.

Not sure if something is ableist? Ask yourself if it would be okay to do or say about race, gender, or a non-disabled person. Learning and unlearning is a lifelong process.

Discrimination against people with disabilities is against the law.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must be followed by schools, colleges, and universities. This includes all programs and activities (e.g., events), not just for students and classes (Office of Civil Rights US Department of Education, 2020). For information about how the law applies to specific programs, visit the New England ADA Center.

People engage with events in different ways.

To create inclusive programs that welcome everyone, it’s important to plan for ways of engaging that may be different than what you’re used to. Universal Design is a strategy to make a space accessible to everyone. Universal Design for Learning is a framework for improving teaching to meet diverse learners’ needs.

A disabled person may make an accommodation request to ensure full participation in the event. An accommodation is a change made for people with disabilities so they can engage with content. Some accommodations are helpful for people without disabilities as well. For example, ramps are important for people using wheelchairs as well as for parents with baby strollers. Similarly, providing presentation content before a training can help both people with intellectual disabilities and others attending the training.

Creating spaces and systems where people can ask for what they need supports access for all. Not everyone identifies as having a disability. Offering more than one way to access information is key to inclusion.


How to Use This Guide

This guide consists of five main parts:

  1. Basic Event Accessibility
  2. Before Your Event
  3. During Your Event
  4. After Your Event
  5. Resources

We encourage you to read through all five parts as you think through accessible events. You can also download this guide as a text-only Word document (.docx) or .pdf version.

Let's get started.

Basic Event Accessibility

Text: Accessibility Resources

About This Accessibility Guide

This guide is a living document, supported by the people and organizations who created it, as well as the UVM Center on Disability & Community Inclusion as a whole. We welcome feedback on this guide.

  • How are you using it?
  • How would you like to be using it?
  • What or who, is missing from the document?

We hope this guide provides information and resources as you take steps to increase inclusion of people with disabilities in your programs.