Guide to Planning an Accessible Event at Wesleyan

Use the new Accessible Event Checklist (PDF) to plan your event.

Wesleyan seeks to build a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty, and staff who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit. We believe an equitable and inclusive education is transformative and believe that all students benefit from being part of a diverse learning community that includes members from traditionally under-represented groups.

For individuals with disabilities, equity and inclusion means designing events that are free of barriers so that they can participate fully. The purpose of this guide is to provide information for event planners about the elements of disability access that will foster full participation.

The following information is provided to address questions related to increasing access to events for all individuals. There are four key requirements that should be addressed in the planning process and additional guidelines in the Accessible Event Checklist

  1. Post notice of accessibility. Include a notice on all event advertising (flyers, email blasts, social media, etc.) that allows someone to request accommodations by email or phone.
  2. Hold events in accessible locations. The EMS room reservation system includes information about accessibility within spaces. Entrances, pathways, and bathrooms near the event must be accessible.
  3. Print material must be accessible. Individuals requesting accessible materials should be provided with alternate text material.
  4. Ensure all communication is accessible. Films and videos should be captioned. Use amplification when possible or requested.

What are disabilities?

Disabilities are physical or mental impairments that limit one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, or eating. Disabilities present themselves in many forms. Some are visible but most are not apparent. Invisible disabilities include partial sensory impairments, such as low vision or hearing loss, chronic medical conditions, mental health conditions, learning disabilities, and dietary restrictions such as food allergies or celiac disease.

What is the university's disability compliance obligation?

Wesleyan is obligated by federal and state disability laws to ensure program access to individuals with disabilities, to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure access, to remove barriers to full participation and to modify policies, practices or procedures as necessary to afford access for all. Designing accessible events enhances the ability of all to participate.

How can I plan an event to ensure that it is accessible?

The key to making events accessible is communication!

Include a disability accommodation statement in all publicity and pre-registration materials that invites individuals with disabilities to request accommodations.

If you have individuals register for the event, then you can ask at that time if they wish to request an accommodation. Pre-registration for an event provides an opportunity for event planners to provide important details about the event. A comprehensive description of the event, including location, environmental conditions, services available, etc., will help participants determine what types of accommodations may be needed. Information that is helpful for participants to know is the distance to parking areas, the availability of transportation services, whether the venue is air-conditioned, if hearing assistive devices are available, scooter or wheelchair availability, and the availability of food options for individuals with food allergies.

What programs must be accessible?

All programs, meetings, exhibits, tours and events, whether held for the Wesleyan community or open to the public, must consider the access needs of persons with disabilities. There is also an obligation to ensure accessibility to events that are sponsored by an outside person or organization that is held at a Wesleyan facility. If you are involved with coordinating the use of University facilities with outside groups, you should discuss whose responsibility it will be to ensure accessibility and accommodations.

Who is responsible for disability access to an event?

Event planners are responsible for planning and providing for the accessibility needs of participants with disabilities at any event sponsored on behalf of the University. Advance planning for accessibility will maximize the opportunity for all to participate and minimize the need for last minute and perhaps costly changes. The process for requesting accommodations should be clearly stated (see above). Event planners should provide contact information for requesting accommodations on all event publicity.

What is the process for determining accommodations?

Since there is no single way to provide accessibility and the needs of individuals may differ, it is often necessary to consult with the individual who needs access to determine how best to accommodate the individual. When communicating with an individual who has requested accommodations, focus on the access issue and the not the disability of the individual. For answers on how best to accommodate an individual’s needs they can consult with Accessibility Services

Who is responsible for any expenses associated with providing disability access?

The costs associated with disability access are considered part of the overall expense of the event. Event planners should include the expense of any anticipated accommodations as a budget item in the event planning. Most accommodations can be made at little or no cost, such as choosing a wheelchair accessible venue for the event. Accommodations such as sign language interpreting will incur a cost.