Making Company Events Accessible

Web Accessibility Knowledgebase

Company events are an important ingredient in a healthy company culture. Here’s how you can do events, the inclusive way.

accessiBe Team

Making Company Events Accessible

Company events are an important ingredient in a healthy company culture. They foster a sense of community, boost employee morale, and studies show that they strengthen work relationships for about 60% of employees who attend. Besides offering possibilities for employees to bond, events give you, as a business or organization, a great opportunity to recognize and appreciate your team members' contributions, achievements, and milestones. Overall, events, when planned well, lead to higher job satisfaction, productivity, and retention rates.

It’s important to make sure that everyone can get the same benefits - regardless of ability.  Prioritizing equal access means everyone can participate in the event’s activities, physical and emotional barriers are consciously prevented, and engagement is enabled for everyone. Here’s how you can do events, the inclusive way.

Vet for Venue Accessibility

Prep for your inclusive company event by vetting the venue you’re booking for physical accessibility considerations. Evaluate the venue for wheelchair accessibility, ramps, elevators, and accessible parking to make sure that attendees with mobility disabilities can navigate the space comfortably.  

Communicate with the venue’s staff and discuss accessibility requirements, including any structures or materials for attendees with disabilities. Confirm with the venue staff that the requested accessibility requirements, such as sign language interpreters or braille signage, will be available during the event for all who join in on the fun. 

When you have picked your venue and it’s time to set up, arrange seating in a way that paves a clear pathway for attendees with mobility disabilities, so they have access to designated, accessible seating areas. And, don’t forget to designate quiet areas or sensory-friendly rooms where attendees with sensory sensitivities can take breaks from the main event. Provide noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, and dim lighting options in these spaces.

“When searching for venues to do our events we emphasize the need for ADA accessibility and then some. The placement of round tables for our guests needs to be greater than the 36 inches that the ADA advises. I insist that for 6 feet between tables as there needs to be room for people sitting and a scooter or wheelchair to pass between. Plus we ask for ramp access when needed. Bathroom doors to be propped open and so much more.” - Stuart Schlossman, Founder and President of MS Views and News (MSVN) 

Perfect Your Sign-Up Process

You want attendees with disabilities to be able to sign up for your event. To make sure they can do so without any barriers, design online registration forms with accessibility in mind. This means integrating clear labels, logical navigation, and keyboard accessibility in your forms so they can be easily filled out. Offer alternative registration methods, as well, by phone or email registration for attendees who may experience issues with accessible technology limitations. 

But, you want to be certain that you’re doing your best to still provide support for attendees using assistive technologies, such as screen readers or voice recognition software, so they can navigate the online registration process effectively. Don’t forget to test online registration forms with screen readers to confirm compatibility and usability, and make necessary adjustments to improve accessibility if you receive feedback on the sign-up process.

Your sign-up form should also include a section for attendees to make accessibility requests ahead of time. Add on an extra section with either multiple-choice options or a chance to type in unique responses. 

“Build a "Special Accommodations" section on every event registration form. From therapy dogs to wheelchair needs, having a place where attendees can request or alert event staff about any special accommodations needed to participate in the event, creates an inclusive environment.” - Kristi Jackson, Autism Alliance of Michigan

Think Big Picture

No one should be excluded from the event you host. Plan activities that include a diverse range of interests, abilities, and preferences to make sure that all attendees can participate and enjoy themselves. You can also provide alternative activity options or modifications for people who may have decided against participating in certain activities.

Examples of activities include team-building exercises that focus on communication and collaboration rather than physical strength, trivia games with questions related to DEI topics, or arts and crafts activities that can be adapted for different skill levels. 

“The Whova app is a pivotal tool in ensuring virtual attendees feel included, enabling them to network, initiate discussions, share photos, and submit questions to speakers.” - Faye Moran, The Ehlers-Danlos Society

It’s also equally important to offer assistive devices or services, like hearing loop systems or sign language interpreters, to support attendees with disabilities as they navigate the offline activities you have planned. 

Boost Participant Engagement

You want your event to encourage participation, right? To do this, create a supportive and inclusive environment where all attendees feel comfortable contributing to discussions and sharing their perspectives. Drive and moderate conversations, to make sure respectful communication and diverse viewpoints are present and welcomed. 

Remember to also incorporate diverse representation and inclusive language in event materials, presentations, and visuals to reflect and celebrate the diversity of attendees and promote inclusion throughout the event. 

Company Events Influence Social Impact

Inclusive company events can contribute to positive social impact by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the wider community, but more importantly, among your employees. By leveraging resources and platforms to create inclusive events, you business can both benefit from a team-bonding experience, while making a statement about inclusion and accessibility.