Event and Venue Checklist
Checklist for events, meetings and conferences
This checklist aims to help organisers of events consider what attendees need to participate fully and equally. Using this checklist will act as an equality impact assessment.
- You may need to visit a venue to check it out in person.
- Photos of rooms, seating, facilities and access points are also helpful for disabled delegates.
- Unless you know in advance that your attendees are not disabled, you should work on the assumption that disabled people may attend and therefore only use accessible venues. If you book a venue that is not accessible and then a disabled person books on to the event, you will need to change the location.
Checking the Venue:
- Is the venue accessible by public transport? If not, consider how people will access the venue if they don’t have a use of a private vehicle.
- Is the venue easy to find and reach for everyone? Consider encouraging people to car share and provide clear instructions on location and public transport links.
- Will people feel safe leaving the venue after sunset (if applicable)?
- Can disabled people, including wheelchair users, move around the venue independently?
- Is disabled parking available close to the entrance for any disabled delegates, and well signposted? Can spaces be reserved (not essential, but helpful)?
- If there is a barrier to enter the car park, can a Deaf person use it? If not, how will they get through the barrier?
- If there are ‘pay and display’ machines are they accessible to people in wheelchairs?
- How will disabled people get in to the building from their transport drop off point/car parking space? Will they need a map or someone to meet them?
- Are paths of a fixed/firm surface, wide enough, not too steep, with dropped kerbs and well maintained (not hazardous and slippery)?
- How many doors would a wheelchair user need to get through and are they automated or easy to open?
- Can suitable ramps be provided for disabled people to overcome any steps? Will the ramps be put out for people ready for their arrival? Note: The top of the ramp should go to a flat platform so there is no danger of the person rolling back and the ramp should not be too steep. One wide ramp is better than two narrow ones.
- Can they go directly to the meeting room or do they have to go to reception first?
- Who can people call for assistance if needed?
- Are accessible toilet facilities available for disabled people and large enough for wheelchairs to turn around inside, with a working emergency alarm installed? If the toilet is not used on a regular basis, make sure that has not become full of storage items.
- Does the venue have good acoustics? For example: no echoes, background noise (including noise generated by air conditioning or heaters), ‘bleed’ from neighbouring rooms or over-damping of sound meaning sounds do not carry well.
- For larger events, are microphones and loud-speakers available for presenters and for taking questions from the audience? Even some smaller events benefit from amplification: some rooms have poor acoustics, or there could be background noise that affects quality of sound, or a speaker may have a quiet voice. Check the set up of the venue is adequate and hire in equipment if necessary (speak to the venue as they may have their own supplier or spare kit).
- Is a hearing loop available? If not, you may need to hire a portable one – speak to your attendees about their requirements if they use hearing aids.
- Do you have enough rooms (including ‘breakout rooms’ for small workshop sessions) and can they be accessed easily? A significant number of people have some form of hearing loss for which group discussions can be a real problem if there is more than one conversation taking place in close proximity.
- If access is required to different floors, is there a suitable (accessible) lift with voice announcements and emergency alarms?
- Will assistance dogs be allowed in the venue?
- Can lighting be adjusted to assist people with sensory impairments? Also make sure that presenters are lit from the front and do not have light directly behind them.
- Are emergency procedures and directional signs clear and easy to understand?
- If possible, is there a choice of seating?
- Can a room be made available for private prayer if requested? This isn’t always possible, but can be helpful for people with daily prayer commitments. There is a Prayer and Contemplation Room in the Annexe at County Hall.
- Will the venue be one which participants would feel comfortable in? i.e. does its owners display or hold religious or political views that are oppressive to certain groups of people? Does the venue have an equality policy that applies to all protected characteristic groups – age, disability, gender reassignment/identity, pregnancy/maternity, race, religion/belief, sex and sexual orientation? If not, consider using another venue.
Checking the catering:
- Is catering available for people with specific diets, for example vegan, vegetarian, allergy free? If Halal/Kosher food is requested but not available, vegetarian and vegan options are a suitable substitute. It is good practice to provide a good supply of vegetarian and vegan options – most people expect this these days and the meat eaters will help themselves to the vegetarian options too!
- Will food be separated and clearly labelled (all fish, meat and vegetarian options should be made up and served separately)?
- Are caffeine free hot drinks available alongside regular tea and coffee, such as decaf coffee, mint, green and fruit tea?
Contacting delegates and speakers:
- Have you described access and catering arrangements to your attendees?
- Have you asked all attendees (delegates, presenters and helpers) if they have any access, dietary or other requirements?
Is suitable overnight accommodation available within the vicinity, which meets individual requirements?
Responding to needs and checking communication methods:
- Are interpreters needed for those whose first language is not English, including Deaf people who use British Sign Language?
- Are speech-to-text typists or lip speakers needed for people with hearing impairments?
- Are presentations or handouts needed in different formats? For example, Audio, Braille, large print on yellow paper, Easy Read etc? Remember to give yourself time to make arrangements.
- Have event materials/presentations been checked to ensure they are free from discriminatory attitudes including offensive stereotyping and things that would cause significant offence?
- Are presentations (for example, Powerpoint) accessible – using good colour contrast and font size; slides are not too crowded?
- Will any presentations/media used be accessible to people with visual or hearing impairments? For example, if you have deaf attendees, are there subtitles to a video? If you have attendees with visual impairments, let the presenters know so that they read out all the written information on the PowerPoint slide.
- Will photographs be taken? If so, check that attendees do not have a problem with flash photography (or don’t use flash photography) and allow people to request not to be photographed. It is advisable to inform people in advance or at signing in desk that photographs or videos may be taken. If notified in advance you could state that by attending the event they are giving their consent to be photographed.
- If using a stage, can disabled presenters access the stage?
- Can seating be rearranged for wheelchair users?
- Do breastfeeding mothers want a private space to express milk, and a fridge to store the milk? Note that it is unlawful to unreasonably prevent a mother from breastfeeding her baby in a public space.
Further information on suppliers of alternative formats, interpreters and communication support.
- Will staff, trained in disability awareness, be available to support attendees if they require assistance? Some people may need help getting from the car park to the room. For example, if someone has a visual impairment do staff know how to guide them?
- Will presenters and assistants ensure that microphones are used by everyone, including delegates asking questions if delegates are using a loop system or cannot hear?
- Will attendees be able to sit in a place where their needs can be met, or they can access support for example, to see a BSL interpreter or hear adequately?
- In the event of a fire or other emergency have you delegated someone to be able to assist wheelchair users and other attendees who need help with evacuation?
- Is there a refuge point for wheelchair users (if the event is not on the ground floor)? Make sure attendees with additional needs know what the emergency procedures are and where they need to go.
- Are there childcare facilities nearby? Or will you allow people to bring children to the event?
Other factors to consider:
- Think carefully about the timing of your event and your desired audience. Usually a daytime event is best between 10am and 4pm to fit around needs of parents with young children.
- Allow for breaks (at least every two hours or more frequently if interpreters and other support is needed, or for people who may struggle with concentration for long periods) and for people to get up and move around or leave if they want to.
Places to try (in addition to DCC meeting rooms):
Devon Libraries: https://www.devonlibraries.org.uk
Local Fire Stations can provide community rooms: https://www.dsfire.gov.uk
(Note this list is not an endorsement and you will need to check accessibility).
Suggested ground rules for managing meetings:
Start and finish on time.
Treat people with respect.
Accept that people will have different opinions, experiences and ways of expressing. But remarks which could cause extreme offence will not be tolerated.
Be clear about what can be shared outside the meeting.
Make sure phones are off or on silent/vibrate.
Only one person speaks at a time (you could ask people to raise their hands when they want to speak).
Keep to the point.
Do not speak for others unless you have authority to do so.