This information was developed by the Cornell Human Resources department and is adapted below. For updates to this information, please see their checklist (pdf).
Making Meetings & Events Accessible
It is our expectation that all meetings and events sponsored by Cornell are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Taking care to create an accessible event benefits not only individuals with visible or known disabilities, but also helps to ensure that all participants/attendees, including individuals with non-obvious disabilities and/or chronic health conditions, and people of all ages and body types, are able to fully engage in the program.
When you send out the invitation or notice, include a welcome message to let invitees know they can contact the planner regarding accommodations.
Your message might include text such as:
“We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with
disabilities, to engage fully. To be respectful of those with allergies and environmental sensitivities, we ask that you please refrain from wearing strong fragrances. To request an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact (name, email, phone).”
One or two days before your event or meeting, send out a reminder about refraining from wearing strong
Another approach is to include a checklist in your meeting RSVP. For example:
I will need the following accommodations in order to participate:
___ Assistive listening device
___ Reserved front row seat
___ Large print
___ Advance copy of slides to be projected
___ Wheelchair access
___ Wheelchair access to working tables throughout room
___ Scent-free room
___ Lactation room
___ Gender neutral bathroom
___ Diet Restrictions. List: __________________
___ Other: _____________________________
Make sure you follow up on all requests received. If it appears you will be unable to meet a specific request, follow up with the individual who made the request to determine whether an alternative arrangement can be made.
2. Check Venue in Advance
Look for these features when inspecting your meeting/event space:
Visibility – Consider those with impaired sight
Clear signage (identifying location and directions); well-lit meeting space and adjacent areas; projection screen visible from all seating (if using projection).
Acoustics – Consider those with hearing impairment
Public address (PA) system; roving microphone; limit unnecessary background music; seating available near presenter for lip reading;
availability of assistive listening devices. Is there well-lit space for an interpreter if needed?
Mobility – Consider those who may be in a wheelchair or have other mobility impairments
Accessible parking near venue; proximity to bus stop; ramp and/or elevator access; accessible bathrooms; barrier-free pathways; wide doorways and aisles to accommodate wheelchairs/scooters; no loose cables across walking areas.
Technology – Consider those who may need to use adaptive devices
Electrical outlets in accessible seating areas to accommodate devices, laptops, etc.; extra space or work surface
Zoom provides accessibility options. Please visit the Zoom website for assistance in making this option more accessible.
Service Animals – Consider access and space for service dogs
Comfortable space for service animals to rest during event; accessible toileting and watering facilities nearby.
3. At Event
Ensure that presenters are aware of HR’s commitment to disability – inclusive meetings, and ask them to prepare and deliver their presentations with accessibility in mind.
At larger events or events with scheduled accommodations, designate someone to be responsible for accommodations as well as help
with seating, ensuring captioning and other technology is working, maintaining clear pathways, or other needs.
Provide presenters with a checklist requesting that they:
- submit materials in advance so that they can be forwarded to individuals who may not be able to view screens or flip charts;
- verbally describe visual materials (e.g., slides, charts, etc.);
- have printed copies available (in larger font);
- avoid using small print on presentations that can’t be seen from a distance;
- ensure speakers (including those asking questions) always use a microphone;
- activate captions on any video used in the presentation;
- encourage hourly breaks; and
- organize breakout group activities to maximize distance between groups (e.g. each group going to a corner of the room or side rooms).
Have someone onsite who helps to ensure follow-through on all of the above.
Make sure to repeat questions posted by audience before responding, especially if there is not a roving microphone available. Presenters or audience members may express confidence that they are loud enough and do not need a microphone. Regardless, ask them to speak into one.
Clearly indicate allergens and gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or other options.
Have questions about accommodations or accessibility for your event?
Review other sections of this website on accessible event planning.
Other useful websites that can help make your event or large meeting inclusive:
- Making your Webinar Accessible
- Accessible Web Conferences and Webinar Best Practices
- How to Design and Deliver and Accessible Webinar