I’ll be honest: accessibility isn’t something I thought about often in my life. And then I met and fell in love with Paul — a board-game-playing, hash-brown-loving extrovert who earned the nickname “Sparkles” because of the flashing lights on the front caster wheels of his wheelchair.
Whether it’s a throwback dance party or Shakespeare in the park event, we go out together a lot. Over time, I’ve learned a thing or two about how events could be easier for us.
Here’s the thing: You don’t have to read and understand the entirety of ADA rules and regulations to make your event more accessible. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference for people with all kinds of accessibility needs. And your event listing is a great place to start.
Here’s how to make your event listing more accessible to more people:
Step 1: Make your event listing as accessible as possible.
A few simple customizations on your event listing will make it accessible to more people (and that means more attendees for your event).
- Add written descriptions for images. Use the description field to describe the picture in detail. How would you describe the image to someone who couldn’t see it? This is what a reader for someone who is visually impaired will be doing.
- Upload a transcript for your videos. People who are hard of hearing (and visual learners) will appreciate an accurate video transcript. This is also great for SEO and translation!
- Increase text contrast. If you are using custom CSS or have an image behind text, make sure the contrast is high enough. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines require text to be 3:1 contrast ratio for large text, or 4.5:1 for small text.
- Add additional time to your purchasing timeouts. People who are using assistive devices, have mobility impairments, or just have slow internet on their phone can benefit from having additional time during checkout.
Step 2: Provide accessibility information on your event listing.
Your event listing is where people with accessibility questions will look for information first, and you can save everyone time by providing the right information here. Provide a factual and detailed FAQ section that includes info on:
- Ramps: Let wheelchair users know about the steepness of your ramps (ADA guidelines specify reasonable grades), and if they may not see them at the main entrance.
- Stairs: Let folks who can handle a few stairs know how many they’ll have to deal with, and that there’s a railing to help. (Some people, like those who use canes or walkers, can handle a small set of stairs with a railing — and some wheelchair users have more upper body strength than I ever will.)
- Ledges: Some wheelchair users have no problem with ledges under a certain height — they can easily navigate a few inches of threshold — while others need completely flat surfaces to get around.
- Restrooms: For restrooms to work for people with wheelchairs or walkers, they need to be able to fit the device inside with the door closed. Specifying how many of these are available helps for restroom break planning.
- Parking: Knowing how far from the car to the venue is helpful. Also, wheelchair users often have a ramp attached to their vehicle and will need open space on the sides of their parking spot (no trees, bike parking, or signage blocking the ramp). Haven’t seen one of these modified vehicles before? They’re pretty cool.
- Inclines: Walking folks don’t always have to think about small inclines they navigate every day or what material they’re walking on, but a little hill or loose gravel can be a real problem for people using wheeled assistive devices. Imagine how you’d navigate your event space if you had to do it in a rolling office chair — this will help you see challenges you might otherwise never notice.
- Seating: Venues don’t always specify what accessible seating is like — is it a space for a wheelchair, or a standard seat with space for the wheelchair next to it? Clarifying what these spaces are is incredibly helpful for ticket buyers.
You can also offer an event map download right on your event listing. This makes it much easier for attendees to map out where they’ll go to enjoy it all, and helps people with accessibility concerns evaluate their route in advance.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to accessibility. So if you’re ready to go deeper, check out this free download, “The Basics of Event Accessibility: How to Create a More Accessible Event.”