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Making an event space accessible 101

Nicole_CBNicole_CB Member Posts: 5 Listener
Hi Community, I joined today hoping to become a better ally in everything relating to accessibility. My first project is to make my company's event space more accessible, and to make sure we don't make any mistakes, I was hoping you may have some tips and advice for us (although I totally understand that no one owes me any of their expertise). 

I'm happy for any advice or no-goes, and I also have some questions if anyone wants to help. First of all: 

- If an event flyer represents a person in a wheelchair but doesn't specifically state that it's accessible, do you assume the event will be accessible? Or do you always ask the organizers for good measure? 

- If a space has ramps that are very steep and one still need someone else's help to go in and out of the space, would you still consider that an accessible space? I guess my question is whether the term "wheelchair accessible" can only be used if people can go in and out of places at will, without having to ask for help. 

I'm a taker for anything anyone can contribute. Cheers! 

Replies

  • Tommyb92Tommyb92 Community champion Posts: 70 Courageous
    Hi there, I just wanted to add my thoughts into the mix, is the area accessible? i.e. is it on a level ground? if its on split level is there a ramp ? do you have Disabled toilet facilities, or if needed a changing space for Adults which may include a bed to be changed on
  • pollyanna1052pollyanna1052 Member Posts: 1,998 Disability Gamechanger
    Tommy has put some good ideas forward.

    As a full time electric wheelchair user, if I see a ramps or doorway that looks a bit on the steep side, I go down backwards and feel safer. I do usually like someone to guide me.
  • steve51steve51 Community champion Posts: 6,966 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Nicole_CB

    Welcome it’s great to meet you this afternoon 😃

    I’m one of the Community Champion’s here at Scope😃

    Yes I would be very very happy in helping you if required 😃

    I am a wheelchair user myself & I have been for a good few years due to a Stroke.

    Please please let me know how you feel 😃

    @steve51


  • Nicole_CBNicole_CB Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Hey there, thanks for your answers! @Tommyb92 the space is on split level and we're currently trying to decide what solution would be best, therefore we don't have ramps yet. We're trying to understand whether ramps are the best solution for our space, or if something else is more suitable. 

    Thank you too for pointing my attention to Disabled toilet facilities. I've been so focused on solving the issue of the flight of stairs (9 steps) that lead to the space that I hadn't thought of the facilities inside the event space. I apologize for my ignorance and have now rectified that on my project.
  • steve51steve51 Community champion Posts: 6,966 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Nicole_CB

    Good Afternoon & Welcome it’s great to meet you today 😃

    I’m one off a team of Community Champion’s here at Scope.

    It’s great to see that you have had some great info to date from a number of our members 😃

    I have been a wheelchair/disabled for a number of years & I would be very very happy in helping you further if required 😃

    Please please let me know how you feel??

    @steve51
  • Tommyb92Tommyb92 Community champion Posts: 70 Courageous
    Nicole_CB said:
    Hey there, thanks for your answers! @Tommyb92 the space is on split level and we're currently trying to decide what solution would be best, therefore we don't have ramps yet. We're trying to understand whether ramps are the best solution for our space, or if something else is more suitable. 

    Thank you too for pointing my attention to Disabled toilet facilities. I've been so focused on solving the issue of the flight of stairs (9 steps) that lead to the space that I hadn't thought of the facilities inside the event space. I apologize for my ignorance and have now rectified that on my project.

    Hi Nicole, thats no problem, sometimes its good to have an outsider to give you food for thought. Please let me know if you need anything else. Tom
  • Tommyb92Tommyb92 Community champion Posts: 70 Courageous
    Also I forgot to mention in my last message that some people may require a quiet space ie no distractions, they also may need charging points if they have wheel chairs! hope this help! Thanks Tom
  • thespicemanthespiceman Member Posts: 6,408 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Nicole_CB   Pleased to meet you.

    Thank you for joining and sharing.

    I am one of the team of Community Champions.  We guide, advise and help members of our community.

    Please I am going to tag my friend @Ami2301 the lady has a lot of experience in accessibility and I am sure be  interested in helping, advising you.

    @Ami2301 is one of our Community Champions team and will explain how she can help you.

    Lady has a lot of knowledge much of it useful.

    Please take care.

    @thespiceman
    Community Champion
    SCOPE Volunteer Award Engaging Communities 2019
    Mental Health advice, guidance and information to all members
    Nutrition, Diet, Wellbeing, Addiction.
    Recipes
  • Nicole_CBNicole_CB Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Thanks a lot for tagging your friend @thespiceman, I'm happy for any more advice and knowledge! I also had two questions in my initial post if anyone has insights on these :)
    - If an event flyer represents a person in a wheelchair but doesn't specifically state that it's accessible, do you assume the event will be accessible? Or do you always ask the organizers for good measure? 

    - If a space has ramps that are very steep and one still need someone else's help to go in and out of the space, would you still consider that an accessible space? I guess my question is whether the term "wheelchair accessible" can only be used if people can go in and out of places at will, without having to ask for help. 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 9,382 Scope community team
    Hi @Nicole_CB and a very warm welcome to the community! It's great that you are wanting to make your event accessible. I personally would say the event is 'step-free' or rather than wheelchair accessible as this can mean something different to different people. 

    Ramps can't be too steep, you also should check that they can hold the weight of bigger electric chairs. 

    Most people will check the access as this can be individual needs to them.
    Community Partner
    Scope
  • Nicole_CBNicole_CB Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Thanks a lot Chloe. This is very helpful! 
  • AilsAils Community champion Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Nicole_CB and welcome to the Community.  It is nice to meet you and thanks for sharing with us.  Great to hear that you are thinking about all of the best things to make your event accessible.  I used to organise events as part of an admin job I used to do and so have some experience of thinking about what works best to make a place accessible.  You have been given really good suggestions above so haven't much to add to them other than if your event is having workshops, will the break-out areas be accessible/large enough for people in wheelchairs?  Also if you are having catering at your event, will teas/coffees/lunch be served on the same level as your main area or do people have to go elsewhere in the building for this?  If so, is there a lift in the building big enough for someone in a wheelchair to use?  Is there parking at the venue and if so, would you need to allocate disabled spaces for people bringing their cars and is there somewhere close to the door that people can be dropped off/collected from so they don't have to walk too far?  Just some thoughts.  I hope your event goes well and is a great success and enjoy all the planning!  I'm sure you will do well.  All the best.  :smile:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • GeoarkGeoark Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,275 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Nicole_CB and welcome to the community.

    Have you considered having an access audit done? Also known as a disability discrimination audit. I arranged for this to happen on our estate office and community room a few years back and the experience was an interesting one. We learned a lot from the inspection and the final report was good for planning on how to become more accessible.

    There were simple quick adjustments that we could implement with minimum effort and cost. Most were listed in terms of priority, for compliance purposes. The report also considered that we are a small organisation with limited funds and so highlighted long term goals if and when funding was available. You can get a good idea of what is involved at https://www.evansjones.co.uk/services/access/access-audits.php there are other companies offering this service.

    Not sure if you are the owner of the company, high up in management or running a project for the company. An audit would be valuable in supporting your and would help to comply with the legal requirements. It should also help with issues like getting dealing with the split level aspect of your space.

    You might want to do some research on how people use the space when it is in use, you don't mention what type of events you do. Again something we did, this time on our own talking to residents and looking at their issues. We approached the council on possible solutions, like dropping kerbs at key points on the estate, unfortunately we were told no.

    For me personally, if the events mean being on my feet all day then having somewhere to sit is essential, as is having somewhere private where I can stretch, or even lie down on the floor for a short period of time helps a great deal. I have recently had to stop going to theatre with my daughter because the seats are so uncomfortable that by the end of each event I was in a lot of pain. However considering the age of many buildings in London there are often restrictions on how much can be done. But some of these issues also affect other health and disability issues. Not good if you have to go to the toilets for an insulin injection for example.

    Definitely talking to the people you aiming to cater for is a good idea. As is finding out what people like or dislike about the type of venues they go to and the issues they face.



    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • JenCoJenCo Member Posts: 115 Pioneering
    Welcome @Nicole_CB
    I love this query! Sincerest kudos for asking. Here are a few thoughts on your query about icons in printed media for your venue:
    We all know Susanne Koefoed's wheelchair icon but this famous icon was designed in 1968 and accessibility awareness (and in general) has come a long way since 


    If you want to encourage as many people as possible to visit your venue think about things like...
    Does your venue welcome helper dogs?

    Does your venue have a loop system for hearing aid users?

    If it's a gallery or similar will there be braille where the written word is a regular feature?

    All of these icons are great additions to the fine print of your media but they're also great features to sing about in their own right. The wheelchair icon on its own is a great icon for general mobility but not for general accessibility as that's a very broad field. Sadly, I'm not aware of any icon that's a good catch-all. I hope this info is helpful.

    More than anything I'd say a venue with well informed staff makes all the difference. Some people will ask for help like, can I charge my assistive tech somewhere? Can the music volume be adjusted? Is there somewhere quiet to chill out for a minute? And above all, welcome disability discounts (for Disabled Persons Railcard holders or the like) because that is such a vote of confidence and really shows how accommodating your venue is. Doesn't matter how small the discount is, just mention it and it's a big vote of confidence.

    Best of luck with the venue! It sounds like a great new venture.
  • Nicole_CBNicole_CB Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Hey everyone, these posts are so helpful, thanks a lot. To give some more detail on our events, we are an online language platform and we organize something like language tandem nights with different activities, and other promotional events. 

    After reading all the comments from a few weeks back we realized that our current office cannot easily be adapted to the needs of people in wheelchairs (the elevator is quite small, and as I mentioned before, there is a long flight of stairs between the elevator and the space). Because we were going to expand anyway, we just decided to make sure we secure a space on the ground floor, with no steps, and we will make that our event space. Once we have the new space, I will come back to all of your great comments about power stations for electric chairs, adapted toilet facilities and so on. 

    Thanks a lot for your insights @Ails. We only offer drinks at our events but generally the hosts will bring drink and top people up, so that solves the catering issue. But the breakout areas for activities are actually very relevant for us. We will make sure to leave enough space so they are easily accessible to all!

    @Geoark I really love your suggestion to have an audit. I will bring this up with our management to make sure that we don't miss anything when setting up our new event space. We are based in Berlin though, so I will look into what's available locally. Because of the language barrier, I joined Scope since it's an English speaking forum and I figured I would get as good advice here as I would on a German forum (and I wasn't wrong about that!)

    And @JenCo, the icons are really awesome. I hadn't thought of them and I will let our designers know so we can update our event flyers every time we update our space to accommodate each specific need. 
  • AilsAils Community champion Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    You are very welcome @Nicole_CB.  Really looking forward to reading more updates from you.  All the best.  :smile:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • GeoarkGeoark Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,275 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi, @Nicole_CB accessibility has been a major EU initiative so I am sure you would find something similar in Berlin.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

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