Creating Accessible and Inclusive Meetings or Events

Advancing Access for Everyone: A guide for groups and organizations

Identifying and removing barriers to access throughout the event planning process will result in a more inclusive and welcoming experience for all our campus event attendees.

Follow these step-by-step guides for a successful and inclusive event:

1. Early Planning Considerations
  • When possible, include people with disabilities in all stages of event planning.
  • Consider the date and time of your event to minimize barriers related to length of day, number and duration of breaks throughout the event, availability of transportation, and religious observances.
  • Designate an Event Access Coordinator on your team for the event or meeting.
2. Event Access Coordinators
  • Receive, confirm, and track all access requests from participants.
  • Manage and implement accommodations.
  • Communicate accommodations arrangements with participants and staff. 
  • Identify assistants who will be available to help with access-related tasks.
  • Coordinate all materials for accessible distribution several days in advance. 
  • Request interpreters and captioners at least two weeks in advance.
3. Venue

Conduct an early site visit to clarify accessibility and what may require additional planning related to:

  • Entrances and elevators
  • Restrooms (accessible, all-gender, and transfer table availability)
  • A refrigerator and microwave for those bringing food
  • Sufficient accessible parking and transportation
  • Audio technology (microphones, listening devices)
  • Temperature control and lighting considerations
  • Quiet spaces
  • Ensure space is large enough.
  • Plan for wheelchair-accessible seating and paths throughout the space.
  • Provide a variety of seating and table options (e.g. table heights, styles, sizes).
  • Confirm emergency protocols and request changes needed for people with disabilities (e.g. elevator use during a fire).
  • Identify other events at the same venue that day and plan to reduce access barriers (e.g. managing noise level).
  • Avoid decorations in pathways, flash/strobe effects, latex balloons, and fog machines.
4. Marketing, Web Design, and Forms
5. Other Considerations

For all-day or multi-day events and conferences, verify and provide - in advance - a list of:

  • Accessible lodging
  • Accessible nearby restaurants and hours of operation

Contact information for:

  • Pharmacy - nearest and 24-hour
  • Urgent Care, Emergency Room, and crisis hotline
  • Grocery stores
  • Accessible transportation
6. Materials
  • If you need assistance creating accessible documents, contact Rutgers Access and Disability Resources at least two weeks in advance.
  • Distribute all materials digitally in advance to all attendees. Include an agenda indicating the amount of walking/physical activity.
  • Provide copies in Braille (as requested), large print, and digitally on the event day.
  • Check and update all presenters' materials for accessibility.
  • Print preferred names on name tags in a large, dark font.
  • Consider the color choices and contrast of all materials.
  • Gather an Event Kit.
7. Presenter Considerations

Instruct presenters to create accessible presentations by:

  • Checking the order each slide element will be read by a screen reader.
  • Including alt text on all images (
  • Considering color/contrast choices and avoiding use of flash or strobe effects.

Remind presenters to:

  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Always use a microphone.
  • Describe images and explain slide content.
8. Event Kit
  • First aid kit with latex-free supplies and earplugs
  • Paper, pens, unscented markers, scissors, tape, duct tape, blank name tags, and clipboards
  • Unscented bathroom and cleaning products
  • Bike tire pump and patch kit for wheelchair tires
  • Juice or regular soda and straws
  • Clean rug or mat
  • Umbrellas and ponchos
  • Water bowl and dog waste bags for service dogs
  • Garbage bags
9. Food
  • Plan ahead to provide gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher and halal options.
  • Clearly label all food and keep specialized options separate.
  • If meals are provided, offer full course options for specialized requests.
10. Event Day
  • Post directional signs and station greeters at all entry points, elevators, and stairs.
  • Use an inclusive check-in process (consider table height, amount of noise, number of staff, flow of check-in process).
  • Avoid background music.
  • Brief all staff about accessibility plans.
  • Set up clear and spacious paths outside and inside.
  • Ask photographers to not use flash and seek permission before photographing people.
11. Announcements
  • Introduce the Event Access Coordinator.
  • Give clear directions to accessible and all-gender bathrooms. Indicate transfer table availability.
  • Ask all participants to say their names before speaking.
  • Invite participants to take breaks for self-care.
  • Share emergency protocols.
  • Explain Event Kit and identify quiet spaces.
  • Invite people with dietary requests to get their food first.
12. Event Follow-up
  • Distribute promised materials and/or post them online in an accessible format.
  • Send accessible thank you notes and evaluations and ask for feedback regarding accessibility and inclusion.

Please contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 848.202.3111 or if you have any questions.

Inspired by The Disability Resource Center at the University of Minnesota. 

A printable version of this document can be downloaded here.