Making events accessible

The event: Housekeeping, ground rules, introductions and greetings

It is important for participants to feel welcome and to know they can ask for assistance at any point during the day. Housekeeping, introductions and ground rules should be given at the start of the event and go towards creating a positive atmosphere. Ground rules should clearly set out behaviour that is not acceptable such as discriminatory behaviour.

Service users said:

It would be useful at the start of events on each day for the chair to talk a little about how things will be managed... When you don't attend events regularly these things are a mystery. I've seen many people who use services feel frustrated they did not get to ask their question or were cut short.

Make sure staff/people working at the event are easily identifiable.

Event organisers may have to work to gain people’s trust.

For meetings with more than one impairment group and/or a diverse range of people who use services, it is particularly important to develop ground rules that everyone agrees with and can work to. This is because what enables some groups of people disables others. It is equally important to tell participants if the event is going to be recorded in any manner. Not only is it crucial to receive advance notice of this, but it can have a negative effect on some people with certain conditions.

Where a meeting is dealing with sensitive issues and information that should be treated as confidential, it is important to let people know at the start of the meeting that everything they say during the event will be anonymous. This means that any report or write-up of the event will not use people’s names nor will anything anyone says be traced back to them.

Many people made comments about how staff at events can help make disabled people and other people who use services feel welcome. General comments included:

Be respectful.

You should never assume that you know what a person needs, you should always ask the person what help they may need.

Remember that some people may have a disability that is not visible.

People also made comments which were impairment specific. While it is best to approach access issues in a general way that addresses all the needs of disabled people, it is important to acknowledge that there are some impairment specific barriers to inclusion relating to people with particular access requirements. People who use services identified and commented upon many such barriers and many apply to more than one impairment ‘type’.

People who have not knowingly met disabled people can be particularly concerned about such issues and be worried about saying or doing the wrong thing. Getting this wrong can lead to confusion and misunderstandings and can cause offence.

Wheelchair users said:

People with personal assistants said:

People with speech impairments said:

People with visual impairments said:

People with a hearing impairment said:

People from black and minority ethnic groups commented: