Accessible Conferences

Event planners will find the checklist for planning accessible and inclusive conferences, produced by the Council of Ontario Universities, a helpful resource.

The checklist covers a variety of conference-related considerations, some of which might not immediately spring to the minds of some event planners. First a location must be chosen, and someone involved in the organizing of the conference should visit it in person, as well as check if any construction work is planned during the event, since this could affect accessibility. When considering the exterior of the conference facility, signage, parking, paths, and transit should all be taken into account. In the interior, entrances, elevators, washrooms, hallways, and conference rooms require attention. Lighting, flooring, seating, and signage are just a few interior factors that affect accessibility.

Other elements impacting the inclusivity of a conference go beyond the physical spaces. Food, print and digital information, the conference agenda, and staff training all contribute to the success and accessibility of an event. For example, in terms of refreshments, attendees need to be able to indicate any particular dietary needs prior to the event. All food should be clearly labeled in large print, tables from which people serve themselves should be accessible to those with mobility challenges, and assistance with serving should be available.

If you’re involved in planning any sort of conference, download the checklist here. You can find the complementary planning guide here.