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A guide to accessible events at the University of Birmingham

How to make your event accessible for all

The University of Birmingham (UoB) welcomes everyone to our conference venues. This guidance has been created to help make conferences and events as inclusive and accessible as possible, whether they take place on campus or are managed externally by the Conferences & events team.

It is important to consider this guidance before confirming your venue. Our aim is to ensure everyone has a positive experience at all our events, and the Conferences & events team is available to answer any queries you have and to offer advice.

If you need this information in an alternative format, please contact your UoB Conference and Events Organiser.

Budget for additional needs

Add a contingency fund to your budget to allow for any additional support as required by your attendees, such as arranging sign language interpreters or captioning.

Please note that it is your responsibility to pay for any required services. However, your UoB Conference and Events Organiser can assist you in booking them.

Support your delegates in advance

Information gathering

Your registration forms should include an option for attendees to inform you of any specific requirements that may affect their experience at your event. This may include:

  • Physical access to an event, facilities or activities
  • Impairments which impact access to materials
  • Other additional support requirements
  • Dietary requirements

If any requirements are noted, you should do your best to provide the appropriate support, with guidance from your UoB Conference and Events Organiser where needed.

Pricing

Where there is a fee to attend the event, consider offering a free place or reduced pricing for personal support workers.

Provide effective pre-attendee information

Facilitate positive experiences by providing a wide range of information in advance to all attendees.

  • Request attendees let you know if advance of any accessibility needs or specific requirements; these may have changed since your initial information gathering or may not have been disclosed
  • Highlight which rooms (if any) are not fully accessible
  • Share documents such as speaker presentations; this allows attendees to access them in the appropriate format prior to arrival
  • To assist with getting to campus and wayfinding while they are here, provide all attendees with the campus map and details for our disabled parking.

View the campus map

For further information, you can also refer attendees to Accessible, which holds highly-detailed access information on venues.

Visit the Accessible website

Accessible marketing and communications

Event information and materials

  • Event websites and apps should be accessible via a screen reader. There are many free accessibility checkers online.
  • If you need to add documents to your website, make these accessible by using headings to organise information, and provide text-based explanations or descriptions of any images you use. Microsoft Word has an accessibility checker built in. If you are hosting PDFs, replicate the information on a webpage.
  • As above, share documents in advance. If you cannot provide a document in advance, ensure access to a printer on the day to be able to print this in larger text, an alternative language, etc on request.

Speakers

Ask your speakers in advance if they have any specific requirements that may affect their experience at your event, including access to a stage or the height of the lectern. If any requirements are noted you should do your best to cater for them, seeking guidance from your UoB Conference and Events Organiser where needed.

Programme

Allow adequate time in the programme for breaks, particularly when attendees need to move between rooms.

Consider the start and end times of your event, accounting for travel time and allowing flexibility for those with caring responsibilities.

Venue

It is important to consider the delegate flow for your event: how they will access the venue and rooms, and how they will navigate their way across campus if you have session rooms in different buildings.

  • To facilitate wheelchair access, aisles in all session rooms should be 38”/95cm or wider.
  • Consider the layout of any breakout rooms, as well as the furniture provided ensuring their suitability for the activity taking place.
  • Networking is an important part of the conference and event experience. Consider providing online/virtual networking opportunities as well as face-to-face interaction.
  • For larger events, provide a quiet room or area for those that need to take time away from the noise and pace of the event.
  • Provide some seating during lunch, refreshment breaks and networking events for those unable to stand and eat, even if this is not possible for all.
  • Assisted animals are welcome on our campus. To make the necessary arrangements contact your UoB Conference and Events Organiser know if any of your attendees make you aware that they will be bringing their assistance animal.
  • If your event includes any social events, particularly those off campus, consider how all attendees will participate, including transport to and from the venue.

Signage

  • Provide clear signage to information points and toilets, including the most direct and accessible routes, and the closest accessible toilets

Your event signage should feature:

  • dark lettering on a light background
  • Sans serif font with initial capitals and lower-case text, avoiding block capitals
  • displayed at a height at which can be read by wheelchair users (140 – 170cm/55 – 67inches).
  • do not laminate signs: these can be harder to read due to their shiny, reflective quality

Registration

The registration/information desk at the event needs to be at a height accessible to those using a wheelchair. You should also ensure this is positioned in an accessible place.

Consider how delegates might register in advance and online.

Staff

  • All events staff and volunteers should be fully briefed on the relevant accessibility options for the venue where your event is taking place. This will include the location of the closest accessible toilets, and access to all event rooms.
  • Event staff should also be easily identifiable throughout the event. Consider differently coloured lanyards or badges, or ‘Here to help’ uniforms or t-shirts.

Emergencies

  • On the day of the event, make sure that you have the emergency procedures to hand for the building/room that your event will take place in. These will be provided by your UoB Conference and Events Organiser.
  • If any attendees require assistance to evacuate the event in an emergency, a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) will be needed. These can be arranged with your UoB Conference and Events Organiser.

Technology

  • If an attendee cannot make the journey onto campus, can you provide an option for them to attend virtually? The university has a Zoom licence available to all staff that you could consider using.Find out more about the University’s Zoom licence
  • If you take the event or part of the event online, it is good practice to ensure that all presentations are accessible, and that captions and a transcript are provided. Seek guidance from your UoB Conference and Events Organiser where needed.

Accommodation

If required, accessible standard bedrooms are available at Edgbaston Park Hotel, with a walk-in shower and emergency cord. These are listed as Adapted Room on the hotel’s website.

View adapted rooms

On the day

It is possible that some attendees will arrive at the event without providing advance notice of their requirements. If you have any concerns on the day, please speak with your UoB Conference and Events organiser as soon as you are able to.

 

 

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