Making Outdoor Events Accessible

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Making Outdoor Events Accessible

Planning outdoor events can pose some unique challenges when considering accessibility. However, making outdoor events accessible can be easily accomplished. To help with making your outdoor events accessible, this article will explore some relatively simple accessibility solutions to make your event enjoyable for all.

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Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Transportation and Parking

Firstly, some of your event goers may be using public transportation. Consider providing accessible public transportation information for festival goers with disabilities, including:

  • Schedules and routes of accessible buses, trains, and shuttles
  • Whether shelter is provided at the bus stop
  • Accessibility access to train and subway stations

When planning event parking, create accessible spaces as close as possible to:

  • The nearest entry and exit
  • Lifts and ramps
  • Parking pay stations or ticket booths

Also, consider providing a clearly-marked designated passenger drop-off area located close to the event entrance.

Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Paths of Travel

When planning your outdoor event, take into consideration the ground covering.  Some ground coverings are more difficult to navigate than others. To make it easier to travel around your event, consider:

  • Using bright colours on any cables
  • Creating accessible paths
  • Using outdoor flooring to stabilize uneven surfaces
  • Keeping electrical cables out of the paths of travel
  • Using wheelchair accessible cable protectors

Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Stages and Seating

Another thing to keep in mind for events requiring a stage is a ramp. Install an access ramp for people who use mobility devices. Always follow provincial and municipal regulation requirements for stages.

Designate reserved areas close to the stage for people using mobility devices or for people with decreased vision or hearing. This will ensure everyone will have access to view the stage. Also include extra space for mobility devices, support persons, service animals, family, and friends.

Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Food Services and Eating Areas

All event goers should have easy access to food services and seating areas during your event. You can make your food service and seating areas accessible by:

  • Creating accessible paths to food service booths and seating areas
  • Ensuring food service booths allow a person using mobility devices or equipment to reach them
  • Providing large print menus or offering to read menus aloud
  • Setting up tables that will accommodate a variety of mobility devices

Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Washroom Facilities, Rest Areas, and Shelters

When organizing your event, plan for accessible washroom facilities. These facilities should be:

  • At ground level
  • Away from crowds and sound systems
  • Convenient for people to reach them

Quiet areas can help people with mental health, sensory processing, and fatigue disorders feel more at ease. For this reason, ensure your event has some quiet rest areas away from the large crowds and noise.

Additionally, provide cool mist canopies or fans to help cool people and service animals during the hot weather. Tents are also a good way to protect people from the elements.

Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Signage

Create accessible event signage. To do so, ensure that signage is:

  • Installed at drop off zones, parking areas, and along the path of the event
  • Easy to read
  • Designed with good colour contrast
  • Posted at different heights
  • Promoting accessibility features

Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Support Persons and Animals

Event participants may have a support person or a service animal to assist them with mobility, personal care, or medical needs. Therefore, support people or service animals are entitled, for the most part, to go wherever the person they support goes. When advertising fees for your event, include any fees for a support person. Also, consider providing water and a suitable relief area for service animals.

Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Communication Supports

Make performances and exhibits at your event accessible. To do so, consider providing:

  • Interpretation services
  • Audio description devices
  • Touch tours for the visually impaired prior to a performance

Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Event Information

Inform people who are interested in attending your event about your accessibility features, such as:

  • Transportation
  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • Rest areas
  • Food services
  • Viewing areas
  • Performances
  • Communication supports
  • Safety information (for example, evacuation plans and signs)

Making Outdoor Events Accessible: Training

It’s especially important to train speakers, staff, and volunteers on:

  • How to communicate with people with different types of disabilities
  • The event’s accessibility features
  • The evacuation procedures
  • How to give feedback to festival organizers about the event’s accessibility

Lastly, remind anyone performing or speaking to:

  • Speak at a pace easy to understand
  • Make sure there is a clear view of their face and mouth
  • Use the microphone
  • Use language that is considerate of persons with disabilities

During and after your event, collect feedback and suggestions from people to see if their accessibility needs were met. After you have gathered feedback, you will have useful information to draw on when planning future events.

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