I’m working with World IA Day 2016 – a one-day (February 20, 2016), annual celebration focused on the practice and education of Information Architecture. As accessibility coordinator, I’m helping local events be welcoming to everyone.
Just a week to the the 2016 World IA Day celebrations. As you plan the final details, here are a few tips for setting up the room and access to the event.
Start by doing a walk-through from the front entrance to the room. Look for place where people coming to the event might need some direction, even a simple sign. Is it easy to find:
- The accessible entrance to the building
- The path to the room
- The elevator if the event is not on the entry floor
Inside the room:
- Reserve a few seats at the front for people who need them.
This recommendation comes from the STC Accessibility SIG, which has produced accessibility guides to their annual conference since 2002. They point out that this small accommodation is helpful for many people. They might need to be near the speaker to hear clearly or see the project screen, or have trouble with attention and benefit from the direct line of sight to the speaker.
- Make room for wheelchairs
Be ready to remove chairs to make room for anyone using a wheelchair, as well as for anyone they are with to sit near them.
- Help sign interpreters be visible
If you have sign language interpreters, make time to talk to them when the arrive about how they want to set up. They may also ask you for a list of names or other important technical terms, so they can be sure to get them right. They will also want them in a place where they can trade places without disturbing anyone. And, you’ll need seats near them for anyone relying on them to hear the talks.
- Face the audience when they speak.
I don’t mean they have to stand rigidly in one position, but even with a microphone, it’s harder to understand someone if you can’t see their face.
- Speak clearly
Don’t rush through their words. Pause between thoughts. It helps everyone, including people who got distracted for a minute, are listening in a second language. But captioners and interpreters will love them for it.
- Repeat the question
If you don’t have a microphone for the audience, ask them to repeat any questions before they answer them. This not only helps people in the room, but also makes sure that the question is included in any recording.
But, most of all, be a good host, and be ready to help with anything from providing a drinking straw to identifying a place to serve as a lactation room.
A few good articles and checklists
STC Conference Accessibility Guides: How (and Why) They Were Created is an article by Karen Marshal that gives some of the background of this long-running project.
The ADA Voting Checklist was created by the Department of Justice to help election officials check the accessibility of polling places. That may not sound very promising, but it’s actually a useful guide to walking through a public space.
Organizing More Accessible Tech Events is a broader view from an event organizer about creating an inclusive culture at your event.
Planning Accessible Meetings is a list of resources from Accessible Techcomm
Next in the series: Managing live social media
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