Diverse and inclusive events are something we should all be aiming for. But what do we need to do to make an event inclusive? Having online versions of events, however helpful, is not a complete solution. If the physical version of the event is not inclusive, we are still excluding people.
Gabby Austen Browne, Founder of Diversity Alliance, shared some tips on making your events inclusive and accessible.
Accessibility Questions in the Registration Process
To understand the needs of attendees, we need to ask about accessibility needs in the registration process. Speak directly to the attendee or their staff about what their specific needs are, as these will vary.
Site Visits are Essential to Hosting Diverse and Inclusive Events
One of the major points of creating diverse and inclusive events is making the venue accessible. Gabby recommends that we always make a site visit before booking a venue:
“When you do go on that site visit, you can even take an accessibility checklist with you. You ask whoever is showing you around the venue key bits of information around accessibility. Or things that they might be on to improve or bring in for you to make your event more accessible.
Put yourself in the shoes of somebody with a physical disability by looking at every point in that journey. Sometimes getting into the venue means going down a dirty old alley where the dustbins are, coming through a side door.”
Accessibility Issues to Consider
Once you are at the site, other things to consider are:
- Location of accessible bathrooms in relation to the sessions or exhibition.
- Size of gangways in rooms.
- Obstacles such as pillars or AV desks in rooms.
- The layout of dinner events (e.g. to accommodate wheelchairs and assistive vehicles.)
- Are stages accessible to speakers with mobility issues?
- Will the stage hold an assistive vehicle?
- Entrance and exit sizes.
- Lift access to different levels.
- Does the venue have assistive tech such as hearing loops for hearing aid users?
- Or audio descriptions for sight-impaired attendees?
By asking these questions and acting accordingly, we can create truly diverse and inclusive events.
Gabby Austen-Browne, Founder, Diversity Alliance
Gabby is the Founder of Diversity Alliance, a consultancy service supporting the global Events/MICE and Hospitality industry to become truly diverse and inclusive through training, workshops and events.
She is also the co-founder of the Diverse Speaker Bureau. Dedicated to nurturing and elevating the voices of people from underrepresented groups, supporting businesses and organisations to diversify their speaker panels at events, contributing to the wider mission for equality, inclusion and representation.