Top tips to make your event accessible
COVID-19 update: Not all of these tips might be relevant at the moment while individuals isolate and practice social distancing. Something you can do is to make sure your disabled access information is listed online, on your own website and on Euan's Guide. It is also important to regularly check this information to make sure it is kept up to date. This is a great step in assisting anyone considering visiting your event when it is safe to do so.
Hosting an event outdoors can be tricky, particularly as there are lots of things you can’t control, including the weather. You’ll probably be catering for much larger crowds than an indoor event too, and this can take a bit more planning for safety beforehand. Naturally, this includes having an access plan for disabled visitors. From summer festivals to New Year spectacles, there’s nothing more satisfying than watching your exciting event unfold smoothly; so we’ve plotted eight tips to help you improve your event's accessibility!
1. Give a good description
Your guests can not predict what’s going to happen, and they certainly will not know what to expect at your event other than what you tell them. So make sure you can give them information that is helpful and relevant. Pre-event information often includes parking and public transport directions, as well as toilet locations and first-aid spots. But if you really want to make it easier for your guests to plan their trip, consider including information about special effects, loud noises, wheelchair viewing platforms and more. This kind of information is what disabled people and their friends and families may want to look for before deciding to attend your event. Don’t forget you can add your event to your listing on Euan’s Guide!
2. Making it easy to get there
Is your outdoor event going to be located somewhere that is far from disabled parking or public transport? Consider organising a shuttle bus for guests who have difficulty walking far. Be sure to organise this well in advance and let guests know how they can use it beforehand.
Image of: An accessible vehicle for assisting wheelchair users to get around a large outdoor event.
3. Check your vantage points
At events with large crowds, it’s important to think about the vantage points of your visitors. Nobody is going to enjoy your event if they can’t see it! So whatever sort of event you are putting on consider how your guests are going to experience it. A good thing to think about is whether there is a space that you can designate as a platform for wheelchair users and those with mobility requirements. If practical, construct a wheelchair viewing platform. Don’t forget it's also a good idea to lay down wide wheelchair-friendly walkways such as rubber paths or ground guards over grassy or uneven terrain.
4. Think logically
When it comes to toilets, make things easy for your guests by locating accessible toilets near wheelchair viewing platforms and your disabled parking spaces. Aim to make these toilets as spacious as possible, and if they are going to be locked let guests know where they can get a key in advance. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!
Batteries don’t last forever, so if possible it's a good idea to install electrical charging points at your first-aid spots for guests to plug their own power chair chargers into. If you're providing this kind of facility, don't forget to include it in your access statement so people know it's there. Other things you could have ready for guests include folding seats, blankets and assistance dog bowls with water. These small features will have a lasting impact on guests who need to use them and will make your event even more memorable.
Top tip: think about your set-up time and make sure disabled access features aren’t the last to go up – disabled visitors might choose to arrive a bit earlier to avoid the crowds.
5. Check your signs and lighting
Bright lights are a must at night-time outdoor events, especially where there are pathways and signs. Make sure your routes and hazards are properly illuminated for all guests and secure any stray cords or wires as a safety precaution. Speaking of signage, how clear are your signs? Double check that your signs will be visible to all of your guests and that they don’t cause confusion, especially where there are big crowds of moving people.
6. Train your staff
Good customer service can make a big difference to people's overall impression of venues and events. Train your event staff beforehand and make sure they are easily recognisable in high visibility jackets. It’s the small touches that can make a big difference; for instance, Euan once received a hot chocolate from a member of staff while he was waiting in the cold at an outdoor event. Don’t forget that customer service often begins before the event, especially if your event is ticketed!
7. Rainy day strategy
It happens, and you really can’t avoid it. You can, however, prepare for a mighty downpour by having tented areas or ponchos and umbrellas available for guests.
Image of: A covered walkway.
8. Share accurate images
Get prepared for next year now; take good pictures during your event to show off your spectacle. This is also a good opportunity to photograph your disabled access features such as toilets, walkways and viewing platforms for your listing on Euan’s Guide!