Let’s talk about how you can be a better ally to the disability community when you’re planning public events.
The first place to start when planning an event should be finding an accessible venue. You should check out the venue in person to see if it’s accessible to your event attendees. Here are some things to keep in mind when checking for accessibility:
– Are there stairs? If so, is there another wheelchair accessible entrance with a ramp or lift?
– Are there automatic doors? If not, can you prop doors open or have someone standing by the door to help people with mobility aids?
– Is there accessible parking nearby?
– Is the event venue on a steep hill that could make it difficult for people with mobility aids and disabilities to get out of vehicles and make it to the front door?
– Is there enough room to move around inside the venue in a wheelchair or with a walker?
– Are there seating options for someone who may not be able to stand for long?
– Is there an accessible washroom?
– Does the main room have a significant echo? That can create communication barriers for attendees who are hard of hearing.
If you’re unsure of how to find an accessible venue in St. John’s, a great place to start would be checking out the venue guide on the FreeForm Events website! You can check off all of your venue needs (including accessibility) and then you will be provided with a list of venues that meet your criteria.
Once you’ve picked your venue, you’re probably going to make a Facebook event. PLEASE include accessibility information in the About section of this event so potential attendees with disabilities don’t have to track down the info. Also be transparent about the event’s accessibility or lack of accessibility. You don’t want anyone with a disability showing up to your event and being surprised to find out that they can’t get in or stay there for accessibility reasons. Even just one stair makes a place inaccessible unless you have a ramp solution.
I highly recommend finding a list online of what makes a venue or event accessible and going through that checklist before you start holding events at a specific place. Click here to see a detailed list from Accessible Campus. I would also love to see more bars and event spaces in St. John’s take the initiative to become more accessible so there are more options in the future.
I know it’s really hard in this city full of stairs to hold all of your events in buildings that are accessible to as many people as possible, but we really need to start working together to make this more of a reality so disabled people aren’t always left out.