ADA and Event Design

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990 and was a landmark piece of legislation in the US that acknowledged the struggles of people with disabilities and made any form of discrimination against them illegal. It also required public bodies, employers and venues (amongst others) to accommodate the needs of those with disabilities in terms of access and making special facilities available. Failure to do so is considered discriminatory and, as such, can be enforced by law.

All of which, of course, has an impact on events, both in-person and online. So, as we’re approaching the 21st Anniversary of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it got us here at DesignScene thinking about how we go about incorporating these very important pieces of legislation into our day-to-day events.

First of all, venue selection. When picking a venue we concentrate on the following:

Wheelchair access – the doors need to be wide enough to comfortably accommodate a standard wheelchair. 

Wheelchair-accessible toilets – again the door needs to be wide enough to accommodate a standard wheelchair with room inside for turning space, as well as grab rails, adapted plumbing, alarm, etc.

Level access – access to the event / activity should be both step and ramp free

Hearing / induction loop. 

That guide dogs and assistance dogs are welcome. 

What additional facilities and equipment do they have available, such as ramps and induction loops.

Digital Events 

Online, there are a number of considerations to take into account to ensure that the experience is optimal for those with disabilities:

Captioning – a textual representation of anything being spoken is made available through the video player.

Audio description (also known as visual description) – additional narration intended primarily for blind and visually impaired audience members and participants.

Signed performance – a trained American Sign Language (ASL) or British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter is present to interpret the script and language used by the presenters.

Layout – the page content is laid out to take into consideration the needs of the visually impaired, with font size and choice, and colour combinations, chosen that are easily legible.

Event Design 

When designing for a packed venue, we start to think about floor plans and the layout of the floor space. Some key considerations here include:

Picking furniture that is not one size fits all.

Making spaces available for wheelchair users or those with a physical impairment. Don’t forget this doesn’t just include guests, this is also a vital consideration for staff, too.

Flooring should be slip resistant, glossy surfaces should avoid glare.

Carpets should be firm to prevent wheelchairs sinking into it.

Areas should be well lit with clear access.

By making the needs of those with disabilities an essential part of our event production planning, we seek to ensure that the experience of our disabled audience members is memorable for all the right reasons. DesignScene’s team are available to discuss your event requirements, and ADA compliance, at any time. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to learn more about our experience of delivering ADA-compliant events.

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