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Organising accessible meetings

We have a duty to ensure that all people have access to council meetings, conferences and seminars. Access can mean many things. Access is not only about physical access to buildings for wheelchair users but also includes things like access to information in different formats, transport to the event and an awareness of cultural differences.

Never assume that you know what another person’s needs are, even if they are a work colleague. Always ask about people’s access needs, preferably using a reply slip on the invitation to the meeting.

This checklist serves as a reminder of what should be in place to create equality of opportunity for all people. Some things are expected as standard, other things should be available on request and some items on the checklist may not be applicable – it will depend on the type of meeting being held.

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  • Are venue staff fully aware of the Equality Act and accessibility issues? Has the venue had an accessibility audit?
  • Entrance access - can delegates with mobility needs use the same entrance as other delegates independently?
  • Accessible toilets – are they close to the meeting or function rooms and are there enough?
  • Toilet facilities – are there nappy changing facilities in the accessible toilets?
  • Access to floors – are there easily accessible lifts?
  • Food and drink – is there easy access to refreshments?
  • Transport – is the venue accessible using public transport?
  • Directions – is the venue easy to find and are there clear maps available?
  • Facilities – is there assistance dog toileting facilities?
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  • Accessible designated spaces – are they within 50m of entrance for people with mobility needs?
  • Reserved – are there named reserved parking places available?
  • Accessible route – is the car park to venue route fully accessible with no obstructions?
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  • Time – are allowances made for people with mobility needs who may need added time to move between rooms and sessions?
  • Family commitments – are allowances made for parents to fit in with school times?
  • Religious holidays – are allowances made for all cultural and religious commitments?
  • Rest breaks – are allowances made for rest breaks for interpreters and support workers?
  • Personal needs breaks – are there delegates with special requirement for frequent refreshment breaks (eg diabetes) or medication breaks?
  • Timing – is the timing of the event, a morning, afternoon or evening, going to be a barrier for some people to easily and confidently attend?
  • Duration – is the duration of the event acceptable for the target audience?
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  • Support arrangements – has budget been allocated for any additional equipment or support needs?
  • Travel costs – has budget been allocated for assisted travel?
  • Speakers, facilitators and exhibitors
  • Venue – have speakers been given clear instructions about presentation aids that they will be required to use a microphone and will be connected to a loop system?
  • Speaker requirements – have any particular access needs of the speaker been checked?
  • Guidance – are speakers and exhibitors fully briefed about alternative methods of communication / languages, and the use of acceptable terminology?
  • Advanced literature – are speakers aware of the need to provide literature, handouts and presentation material in advance for interpreters and to change into alternative formats?
  • Audience – are speakers fully briefed about the needs of the audience, eg to face the audience to ensure they can be heard clearly and to help lip readers?
  • Equipment - have presenter and delegate requirements been addressed in advance and budgeted for?
  • Loop systems – check other equipment does not cause interference
  • Public address system
  • Roving microphones
  • Portable ramps - for accessing entrances and staging
  • Height adjustable lecterns
  • Electrical sockets and extension leads plus safety covering
  • Projector screen for speech-to-text
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  • Clear – is the event description including outcomes clear?
  • Format – is publicity in a variety of formats using a range of media (print, web, email, forums etc)?
  • Travel – does the publicity material identify if travel or support costs are met?
  • Target groups – has time been allowed for distribution through networks of organisations?
  • Venue – are accessibility details publicised to inform participants early so they can make necessary arrangements?
  • Registration arrangements (also pre-registration information packs)
  • Format – are there alternative registration options available (formats and languages) eg online, telephone, text phone and email?
  • Individual requirements – are there opportunities to request any specific requirements? This should always be done in full consultation with the delegate, as they will be fully aware of their own requirements eg:
    • personal support
    • access requirements
    • dietary requirements
    • special requirements based on cultural or religious beliefs
    • a note taker
    • British Sign Language interpreter
    • documents in alternative formats such as large print, Braille, or provided in electronic form
  • Special arrangements – has enough time been allowed for making special arrangements?
  • Confirmation – is confirmation about the arrangements for individual requirements sent out without prompting and in the appropriate format? Inform participants in good time if there are difficulties in making individual arrangements
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  • Interpreters and Language Service Professionals (LSPs) – has each specific need been considered? - Sign Language Interpreters, Lip speakers or Palantypists (speech-to-text)
  • Positioning - are delegates consulted on the best position to place an Interpreter and LSP - a lip speaker will require suitable lighting?
  • Power sockets - are there power sockets and a table are available for Palantypists? Place the screen to allow all delegates to view the output
  • Interpreters - has the need for bilingual interpreters been considered where English is not a first language?
  • Note takers – has the need for note takers been considered - manual or electronic? Note takers may also require a table, power socket or additional lighting
  • Enablers - have arrangements been made for additional assistants to be available? Do not expect other delegates to act as enablers
  • Facilities for assistants – is an alternative room available for drivers and assistants? Assistance dogs may need extra facilities
  • Signage
  • Clarity - are signs printed in dark lettering on light background? Use large print, sans serif font with initial capitals and lower-case text, avoid block capitals
  • Height – are signs at a height which can also be read by wheelchair users (1400-1700mm or 55-67inches)?
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  • Event badges – are badges prepared for support workers, including their names where possible?
  • Directions – are maps clear and do they include access routes into buildings?
  • Local transport – are details provided about accessible local taxi companies, accessible public transport, accessible entrances and reserved parking bays?
  • Taxi – is a post-event taxi booking facility available and clearly indicated?
  • Residential accommodation – are details about accessible accommodation and social facilities available?
  • Programme and literature – are programmes and supporting literature offered in alternative formats or languages? After the event papers could be available electronically
  • Briefing – are support workers briefed and their seating requirements fully understood eg position of BSL interpreter or availability of electrical sockets for speech-to-text interpreter?
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  • Reserve seating – is there a requirement to reserve seating next to a disabled person or in another suitable location for support workers?
  • Choice – is there a choice of seating design (with or without arm rests) or seating location (sufficient space in gangways and between rows for wheelchair navigation, guiding blind delegates) - for all workrooms and catering facilities? Wheelchair spaces should be left throughout seating not just on ends of rows
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  • Off site venues – are routes wheelchair navigable and venues sufficiently accessible to provide parity of service?
  • Comfortable – is there adequate room under dining tables to accommodate wheelchairs?
  • Buffet - are some seating and tables available if refreshments are to be served buffet style?
  • Parity - is the full range of refreshments available to all delegates and served on counters of a suitable height for wheelchair users?
  • Menus – are menus offered in alternative formats or is assistance available to outline options?
  • Assistance – is assistance available to carry food and drink?
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  • Labelled - are specific dietary dishes placed on separate platters and well labelled?
  • Vegetarian – is a range of food is available to accommodate vegetarians and that it is well labelled?
  • Content – does the menu reflect the diversity of the target audience?
  • Respect – are foods well separated to avoid cross contamination with respect to religious requirements?
  • Utensils – are there alternative utensils, cups and straws available on request?
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Responsibilities - are responsibilities for implementing emergency evacuation procedures clarified with the venue provider identifying any special requirements?

Clear – is it understood who is responsible for making evacuation arrangements clear to all delegates at start of meeting?

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Please indicate whether you require any of the following by ticking the box:Suggested wording to add to invitations to meetings – note Arial font, size 14 point

  • Will you require disabled parking bay reserved for ‘blue badge’ holders?
  • Do you need assistance in getting from your car into the building?
    • If so, what assistance will you need?
  • Do you require documentation in large print format?
    • If so, what font size would you prefer?
  • Do you require documentation on audio tape or in Braille?
    • If so, what format would you prefer?
  • Do you need documentation translated into any other language?
    • If so, what language would you prefer?
  • Will you need extra facilities for your personal assistant to accompany you?
    • If so, what facilities would be needed?
  • Will you require an interpreter or other assistance with communication?
    • If so, what are your requirements?
  • Do you have any special dietary requirements or need special eating arrangements? If so, please give details
  • Would you like further details about possible assistance with travel costs.
  • Do you have any childcare requirements?
    • If so, what are your requirements?
  • Please give details of any other requests

If you need further assistant, please contact equalities@wiltshire.gov.uk

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Last updated: 13 June 2017 | Last reviewed: 13 June 2017