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In conjunction with our Article on the Disability Discrimination Act and its effect on events, please find below 7 Top tips for finding an accessible venue for your next event.

1 – If you plan to undertake an access audit yourself, use the guidance and toolkits available and set aside enough time. Create a checklist to take with you on site inspection visits to assess and compare venue suitability. Remember to look at external approaches, anterooms and any facilities at the venue such as public telephones or vending machines;

2 – Check that access features are maintained and managed. For example, disabled toilets are sometimes used as additional storage space; loop and infrared systems for people with hearing impairments may not be properly operated or maintained;

3 – Find out about awareness training for venue staff. Does the venue regularly use agency staff and/ or casual staff – have they had suitable training? Will you or somebody with an understanding of disability access issues be able to brief them before the event?

4 – What policies and procedures does the venue have? Do they have a policy not to admit animals? If so, then you must ensure that this policy does not extend to assistance dogs (guide dogs) as this is likely to be illegal;

5 – What are the evacuation procedures? Do they take account of disabled people, including people with sensory impairments and mobility difficulties? Does the venue have information about evacuation and emergency procedures available in different formats such as Braille or large print? iI not, you will have to provide this to your attendees at the start of the event;

6 – Think about the venue when it is full and your delegates and customers are moving around the venue. Will the venue still be accessible or not? Will you need to consider leaving more space for people to move around or changing the timetable to allow additional time for people to move from the function room to the restaurant for lunch, as an example?

7 – Carry out a Risk Assessment. This will help you identify and remove or reduce any health and safety risks – e.g. slippery surfaces, hazardous materials and risk from vehicles. Risk assessments are not designed to exclude certain groups of people, they are there to ensure everybody’s safety. “Five Steps to Risk Assessment” is a short publication produced by The Health and Safety Executive and can be downloaded from their website.

Finally, whenever possible, consult with colleagues who have a disability and involve them in all the processes to ensure that as many factors as possible are covered in the planning stages.


Source: Adapted from the original article written by Michael McGrath for Meetings & Incentive  Travel magazine, October 2009.

Michael McGrath is the only disabled person in the world to have successfully led expeditions to two of the most inaccessible places on Earth – the North and South Poles.

For more information on Michael McGrath and what he can do for you, please visit Michael’s website

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