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Accessibility Checklist for an Event

May 19, 2018

I’ve been asked to repost my checklist and am happy to do so. Please feel free to share, use, and repost it at any time.

How can event planners include the 20% of the population who are people with disabilities?

While this list does not address every disability or every need, it does address the baseline accessibility requirements for people with mobility issues. Right from the initial posting of the advertising or the invitation, we must feel equally included, welcome, and safe.

Toronto event planners are encouraged to choose venues already listed on

An event organizer should be able to say “yes” to ALL the following about their chosen venue:

1. Is the venue physically accessible and barrier free?

a) There no steps leading into the building. A permanent ramp is acceptable, a temporary one is not. (These ramps are the subject of insurance lawsuits after injuries. Some owners/insurance companies are trying to claim they are not liable because the disabled person using the ramp assumed the risk.)

b) There are working e-doors for entrances and exits.

c) The event is held on one flat level of the venue with no interior stairs.

d) If it is held in a store, all aisles will have wheelchair clearance and turn around space

e) The washroom is accessible meaning: e-doors at least 32” wide for entrance and exit, a stall with a low sliding lock and grab bars, large enough to permit wheelchair turn clearance, and sink, tap, soap, and towels or dryers that can all be reached from a wheelchair.

f) if there is a stage, it will be accessible with a permanent ramp, or no one will use it and all readers will all read from the floor. This applies whether or not there are disabled writers or performers appearing at the event. No disabled person in the audience should have to watch abled folks mount a stage effectively telling us we don’t belong there and are not expected to ever get there. Any stairs to the stage say one thing: that presenters are quite happy to use their abled privilege to keep us out.

g) seating will be available, with some reserved as accessible, and an empty space for chairs/scooters

h) event planners will ensure snow and ice is removed from the sidewalk, ramp, and entryway

2. All publicity must contain full accessibility information, to be posted right from the start.

a) the minimum requirements include: a map detailing parking, transit, and event entrance, information on stairs and levels, washroom accessibility, transit and parking availability, and an email and phone number of an Accessibility Contact person.

b) the venue must also have at least the same minimal accessibility information permanently posted on its own website. Event planners are encouraged to make this a condition of choosing that venue.

This list is a minimum list created by reducing the full and very detailed criteria of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Event organizers should be aware that meeting this minimum checklist does not qualify them to call their event “fully accessible.” That term requires AODA inspection and would include very specific measurements and facilities such as adult change tables in washrooms.

Event organizers need to be aware that some abled organizers have taken it upon themselves to start to use the following terms: “semi-accessible,” “mostly-accessible,” “fully accessible except for the washroom.” There is no such thing as “semi-accessible.” Either a disabled person has full and equal access to every feature of the venue, or it is inaccessible. These terms are an insult and clear proof organizers know that they have consciously chosen a venue where disabled people are reduced to second class citizens who are neither respected nor welcome.

Event planners are encouraged to go beyond this minimum checklist and post any other information important to people with disabilities, such as listed on braille on doors, ASL/CART availability, roving microphones, accessible pricing, policy for service animals, free admission for caregivers, scent-free policy, etc.

The goal is to have all necessary information available with the initial advertising so that disabled people do not need to call, research, or investigate to ask if they are welcome. Like abled people, we simply want to be able to love discovering an event and decide to attend it.

Thank you for your commitment to accessibility,

Dorothy Palmer

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