Planning Accessible Events


Begin planning your event with accessibility in mind. 

  • Assign someone to be a point of contact for access/inclusion implementation. 
  • In your program budget, plan for expenses, such as captioning and/or interpreting. 
  • Take into consideration who is and isn’t represented when selecting a presenter.  
  • Check with presenters to make sure they are informed on inclusive best practices while facilitating the event. 
  • If sign language interpreters or captioner are being used, provide a script ahead of time if possible. 


  • Include language about how and by when to request accommodations, materials or interpretation in a language other than English (e.g., if an individual uses English as a second language), and dietary modifications, and include: 
    • Contact person with phone number and/or email address. 
    • Clear deadline by which to make requests known (2 weeks is standard when possible). 
  • Electronic and printed materials should include specific information about event accessibility and accommodation request processes. Include provisions such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, Closed Captioning, and Communication Access Real-time Transcription (CART), Fragrance Free, etc. 


  • Choose an accessible facility with power door access, lighting options, proximity to parking, and accessible bathrooms; either on the ground floor or with elevator access. 
  • For outdoor events make sure there is easy level access and allow for wheelchair, mobility scooter, or walker space needs.  
  • Allow for clear paths of travel to and in both outdoor and indoor settings. 
  • Test accessibility before the event in the room where it will take place, i.e. lighting options, video display, captioning size, etc. 
  • If food is provided, ensure there are inclusive choices for a variety of dietary needs, such as dairy free, gluten free, and vegan. 
  • Have handouts and other materials in an accessible electronic format available to everyone, or at a minimum, upon request.  
  • Plan space for 1-2 ASL interpreters or captioners.  


  • Ask people to state their name and their preferred pronouns when they speak. Restate your name when you speak again. 
  • Try presenting with multiple modalities. Even if your preference is a reading of your work/paper, it is helpful to support the verbal and/or signed linguistic piece with visual representations of text (PowerPoint; using a Document Camera). Be sure to verbally describe visual materials. Be sure that audio materials have visual elements and captions. 
  • Have 2 or more microphones available for the presenter(s) and for audience questions. 
  • Provide a clear set of options for participants to ask questions or request handouts if they are unable (or do not wish) to raise their hands to do so, (anonymous written notes, for example).  
  • Allow participants to stand or move freely if they need to. Include planned breaks for other needs. 

Online or Hybrid Events 

  • The majority of steps for inclusive in-person events apply to inclusive online events. 
  • Have people put their preferred name and pronouns in their Zoom name. 
  • Ensure to the best of your ability to have a distraction free environment and background.  
  • Use appropriate lighting (2 light sources from the sides is ideal).  
  • Turn off auto-focus if using a webcam that has this. It can be distracting to view. 
  • Having the clearest audio and video will benefit everyone. External microphones and webcams will improve quality.  
  • Expect audio and video glitches/freezing and be patient. Inform the speaker to repeat what part was missed.  
  • You may want to have a slide showing instructions for when people log into the event, such as to have their video off and audio muted, how to pin the speaker, how to turn on captions, etc.  
  • Also provide this information (as well as presentation materials) electronically before the event. 
  • Caption settings need to be turned on in the Host’s account under Advanced Settings via the Zoom website before the event is live, and before connecting a captioner.  
  • Establish clear turn taking rules, such as having participants use the “raise hand” feature. 
  • Ask participants to say their name before speaking.  
  • Provide multiple ways for participants to engage, ie: via chat function, direct message, email, etc. Read typed messaged aloud. If a person doesn’t want their name to be read aloud, respect that.  
  • Record online events and make available later. 

AEC Support:  

Request an ASL Interpreter: Sign Language Interpreting

For captioning guidance/support: