The Accessible Meeting Guide
The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center has developed an accessible meeting guide online www.adahospitality.org/accessible-meetings-events-conferences-guide. This guide will show you what’s necessary to make a meeting in your office accessible.
If you’re having an expo with thousands of people participating, the guide will walk you through what you need to consider to make sure the expo is accessible.
Perhaps you’re holding a conference for several hundred people. The guide will walk you through what you need to consider to make the conference accessible. You also can learn what you need to consider to make any other type of meeting that an individual or a group is considering having accessible to all different kinds of people with various disabilities.
If you plan for a person with a disability to speak, you need to be sure he/she can get to the stage, using whatever type of equipment he has.
We’ll also discuss with you how to provide materials in accessible formats for meetings and conferences, and many other things that an individual or a group needs to know about and consider when planning a meeting. Too, we explain how to ask the question, “Do you have a disability? If so, what do we need to do to make sure you can get to all parts of the meeting?”
The last comprehensive meeting guide was 20 years old. So, we’ve redesigned a new one that has much more and better information to suit the time we live in and the people we serve. The meeting guide also has lots of links to other resources that will help anyone planning a meeting or a gathering of people. You can enter the meeting guide as a participant, a meeting planner or as the host site of a meeting.
Don’t leave your speakers in a lurch if they can’t get on stage due to unaccessible stairs.
One suggestion the ADA gives is to send out a flyer or an advertisement stating, “If you need any type of accommodations, and you’re coming to this meeting, please let us know 2 weeks ahead of time, so we can ensure we meet your needs.”
This way you’re requesting that the meeting attendees let you know what type of accommodations you need to consider making to be sure they can attend all functions of the meeting. For instance, if you’re planning a big meeting, and a large number of people are coming, but the attendees have to go up 10 steps to get into the meeting, then if one of the attendees is in a wheelchair, you know you’ll need to have a ramp for the attendees to go up and down the steps. In the meeting planning guide, we also have a link to an existing facilities check list that you can use to review the site where the meeting will be held. That way you can make sure that the meeting place is accessible for all attendees.
We have a number of tools in the guide too that will help meeting planners solve problems before any problem occurs. The guide is meant not only for meeting planners, but too for anyone to use to make sure that the facility is accessible for everyone. We also encourage people with disabilities to become proactive and send this check list to the venues where they’re planning to attend events. For instance, the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) (www.aapd.com) is posting the link to this meeting guide on its webpage and in the organization’s newsletter to encourage people with disabilities to advocate more for accessible meetings and conferences.