Creating Accessible Events


At WWU, we value an inclusive, diverse community. Disability is a part of diversity. It crosses every boundary and affects every group of people.  As more and more students arrive on our campus identifying as having a disability, their inclusion in events and activities becomes extremely important as they deserve the same opportunities to network and gain friendships as their non-disabled counterparts.

What is Universal Design?

Society is rightly moving away from a medical model of disability, which views disability as something that needs to be fixed, to a social model of disability, which acknowledges that disability is part of diversity and that the design of our environments determines whether a disabled person has equitable access. Utilizing concepts of UDL, we can ensure that the environment is accessible and inclusive from the start and reduce the need for some individual accommodations. 

For more information on Universal Design, check out the following websites: 

What is Universal Design from the Center For Excellence in Universal Design.

Tips for Accessible Events

Planning the Event

  • Ensure the location is near accessible parking options
  • Remember to space chairs and rows far enough apart to allow sufficient space for wheelchairs, walkers, mobility scooters, service dogs, or other medical equipment. Is there a place for low vision attendees to have clear access to any visual aids?
  • If providing food, consider avoiding the top 8 most common food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans) or at least clearly labeling all ingredients 
  • Utilize Universal Design for Learning principles   
  • Accessible Best Practices for presented content 
  • Ensure font is 18 pt or larger 
  • Ensure adequate contrast (4.5:1) of foreground/background   
  • Make slides available to attendees beforehand and ensure they are accessible to screen reader users.  Run an accessibility check to ensure there are no errors. 
  • Closed Caption any media and ensure the captions are at least 99% accurate 
    • Note that automated captions through YouTube, Vimeo, etc. are not at least 99% accurate 
  • When providing materials to attendees, ensure all functionality is available from a keyboard  
  • Have a deadline for presentation materials prior to the event to ensure its accessibility and distribution before the event

Promoting the Event

  • Is there a clear statement on promotional materials letting attendees know how to request disability accommodations?
    • Here's a suggested accommodation statement: This event is intended for all participants, including those with apparent or non-apparent disabilities.  For disability accommodation(s) (such as ASL interpretation, etc.) please contact [event organizer's name, phone, and email]. Advanced notice is appreciated and sometimes necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.  
  • Communicate accessible parking routes  

During the Event  

  • Provide alternate text for visual content
    • If describing something visual, such as a graph or image on the screen, explain its significance  
  • Identify speakers: say who is speaking when there are multiple speakers  
  • Speak clearly and avoid speaking too fast so live captionists and ASL interpreters can keep up  
  • Do not display content that flashes 
  • Use animations sparingly 


Further Resources 

DAC Staffer, Jacob Kinser, tries out the Wade King Rec Center's new accessible NuStep machine at Vikings on Wheels.

DAC Staffer, Jacob Kinser, tries out the Wade King Rec Center's new accessible NuStep machine at Vikings on Wheels.