When putting together events, there are thousands of details that need to be taken care of. Because of that, it’s understandable that some of the preparations have to be prioritised to make the event happen.
However, while there are some areas that may not be as urgent, ensuring that your event is easy to access for people who are impaired or have disabilities is absolutely essential. Otherwise, you will not only lose a significant percentage of your prospective attendees but will also earn a bad reputation for your company.
Only by ensuring that all of your attendees feel welcome and can enter your event and enjoy the program just as anyone else can you maximise your event’s potential and stand out as a pioneer in making your event more accessible.
The good news is that today, technology is making the task of creating an inclusive environment in your events easier than ever before.
To help you get started, let’s explore some of the most useful technology solutions that will help you attend to the needs of the disabled and make your event management production easier to manage.
There are many ways you can make your events easier to attend. Making sure that the entrances and main areas are wheelchair-accessible, providing enough space for wheelchairs in your presentation rooms, and organising assistance in advance for those that need it are just a few ways for making it easier for people with restricted mobility to participate.
However, no matter how well you prepare, the reality is that not everyone who would like to attend will be able to be there physically.
Luckily, with the help of technology, an event planner can provide that possibility even to those who cannot come to the venue. What’s more, in doing so, they will also be providing a considerable boost to the exposure of the event and significantly increasing its reach worldwide.
More and more events in the United Kingdom and beyond are choosing to stream parts of their event, or even the entire event, to audiences online. Technology has made this so simple that almost anyone can do it on a shoestring budget through social media or specialised platforms.
But while it offers numerous benefits in terms of boosting your event’s reach and impact, it can also be beneficial to those who cannot attend your event because of disabilities or physical conditions.
You can live stream each of the events in your program, providing the full experience to people who might be thousands of kilometres away.
In fact, you could even enhance their experience by using visual elements that make it easier to follow and provide context, such as the names of the speakers, their main points, and links to external materials or information.
Finally, you could provide a way for viewers to interact with the event as well. For instance, you could create event-themed hashtags which the people streaming could use to add comments and feedback about what’s going on.
It’s even possible to set up a system where people could ask questions of the speakers and fully participate just as anyone who is attending in person.
Assistance Tools for the Impaired
In the previous section, we discussed numerous ways how you could provide your guests with the full experience of your event without actually having to be there.
Still, even though that is certainly very convenient and considerate, you should still do your best to provide an inclusive and comfortable experience to people with disabilities that do end up attending in person.
Luckily, there are technological solutions that can help those with impairments get the full event experience and absorb the information just as well as everyone else.
For instance, if you’re organising a conference where there will be multiple presentations and speeches, consider the needs of those with hearing or visual impairments.
You should have visual representations of key points on the stage, displaying graphs and other relevant data. However, some people won’t be able to view them, so you should consider handing out those materials in advance so that people could have someone read it to them before the presentation starts.
Alternatively, you could have the speakers verbally describe slides and other visual materials as they go through the presentation, which ensures that those with visual impairments can understand the full context.
During your event management production process, make sure that your speakers use microphones and place speakers all around the room so that people with weaker hearing can still follow and understand what’s being said.
You could even consider using digital speech-to-text software solutions so that those who cannot hear could at least partially follow what’s being talked about.
No matter how well you prepare to accommodate the needs of the disabled, it won’t matter if people don’t know about the options that are available or don’t know how to use them.
That’s why you need to figure out a vehicle for conveying that information to everyone participating in your events, including those that are visually impaired or cannot hear as well as others.
Sure, you should make sure to make timely announcements and also have signage that suggests the best ways to use the available accessibility tools.
But you could also consider using an event app where you could put together a range of tools, as well as all the relevant information, in a single place where anyone could access it.
During presentations, apps could be very helpful to those who cannot see as well, providing close-up visuals for shortsighted people. Alternatively, you could use apps to provide text and context to those who have a hearing disability.
An event planner in the UK can also use apps to create interactive maps where the entire event can be mapped out, highlighting points where those with disabilities can seek assistance or get more information about the event’s schedule.
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd – leading virtual event company offering event production, venue finding and team building services in the UK. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago as time progressed she became an avid event blogger sharing her insight on corporate event planning.