Event Planning

image of trees in spring

When planning events that are open to the public, make sure that your organization’s events are accessible for guests with disabilities. Your organization’s event may require a sign language interpreter, large print handouts, or simply making sure that the room you reserve is easily accessible. Please review the guidelines below with those accessibility needs in mind:

Clearly list contact information - Clearly list on all signs, posters, and event advertisements the contact information for the member of your organization who is aware of and responsible for accessibility concerns: wheelchair accessibility, seating arrangements, audio-visual capabilities, alternative print options, podium access, sign language availability, and elevator access as they relate to your event.

Wheelchair Accessibility - Be mindful of the physical accessibility of the building and specific rooms in which events are held, as well as the accessibility and route to nearby bathrooms. Note the presence/absence and locations of functioning elevators and unobstructed ramps. Also observe entrances and exits to the event, reception, and refreshment areas, as well as proximity of bathrooms to these locations. Consider also the possibility of extra-wide wheelchairs or scooters. 

Wheelchair Rental - There are a number of equipment rental companies in the local area. Guests may choose to rent their own wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, and other equipment from local vendors that provide short term loans for a cost.

Seating - Determine the locations of seats free of obstructions in the line of sight or ambient- noise interference. Try to choose rooms with ramp platforms to most, if not all, parts of the room.

Audio-Visual Equipment - Technological capabilities available include film and video open captioning, FM microphones, printed or print alternative copies of 
dialogue and scripts of media presentations, monitors and boards fully visible from all seats, and amplification appropriate for particular rooms. 

Alternative Print - Consider print alternatives, including handouts in large print or on discs (for persons who have requested this with advance notice). Please also post printed materials electronically, if possible, for reference after your event.

The Podium - It is impossible to assume in advance the needs of all your participants. If the event includes members of the public as presenters or speakers, be sure to consider access to the podium.

Elevator Access - Check that the elevators are in working order the day before and the day of the event. Take into consideration the dimensions of elevators in older buildings.

Restrooms - Assure nearest accessible restrooms are unlocked and located on an accessible route.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) – Due to demand, requests for Assistive Listening Devices should be made at least two weeks in advance, if possible. Technology loans may be arranged with sufficient notice through the University Disability Services.  Individuals or programs needing such equipment are encouraged to contact University Disability Services at disabilityservices@harvard.edu or (617) 495-1859.