During the Summer we noticed that a lot of people- and in particular those putting on outdoor events- have been wanting disabled access and viewing platforms. We like this as a sign of greater thought being given to different kinds of event attendees- of course we do- and no doubt you do too. It’s probably a direct result of the Disability Discrimination Act and if you’re an event manager of any type- festivals, outdoor arts, conferences, parties, then you’re probably already doing disabled access and viewing platforms, or you’re thinking you should know more about them.
This post is about making you an expert in the DDA, and after reading this post, you’ll be hitting the ground running with a fully integrated and efficient DDA strategy (sounds good right?) that won’t stop you spending the time you need to on all the other (and there are many and various we know!) aspects of event management. We’ve got a toolkit, we’ve got some pitfalls to avoid, and we’ve got some advice to send you on your way.
Firstly, your toolkit.
1) The original text of the DDA (worth a quick read-through for context)
2) ISAN’s comprehensive toolkit for all your DDA considerations: ‘ISAN Access Toolkit Nov 2009‘
3) If you’re regularly involved with temporary structures then we recommend a copy of Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment, published by the LDSA. This gives you the technical backup for access structures. Our office copy is very well-thumbed!
Now, the specifics:
‘Reasonable adjustments’ are what the DDA expects of you, keep that phrase in mind when asking yourself how far you need to go:
- Build a hotlist of venues that take accessibility seriously- a lot of the physical prep will have been done so you don’t have to! Key things to look out for are a variety of accessways into the building, good lighting, a nearby car park, loop hearing systems, clear signage and disabled toilets.
- Give different ways to book- email, phone, online, textphone if you can!
- If you have bookings, ask your attendees if they have any particular requirements.
- When programming think about whether you need to plan extra time between activities for breaks and/or if people need to move between places
- Make sure there is signposted carparking close to the entrance & give advice on accessible public transport routes
- Ensure that the entrance has either hand-railed steps and a ramp, or that the entranceway is level (yes, we can help you with ramps and handrails!)
- If your attendees or speakers need platforms to stand on, we can build you many configurations, such as
- Produce written materials at font size 12 or above
- Talk to RNID if you need services such as lip reading or interpreters
If you follow the above 9 steps you’ll be doing very well, and you’ll be doing even better if you read the publications in the toolkit to add more detail when applicable.
There’ll be budget implications, of course. Integrate your planning on disability access early enough so that the budget impact is kept to a minimum. A longer lead in time can usually mean less cost.
Good luck, and let us know how this posts help you when planning your next event!