Making Events Accessible

During our first 2014 Event Coordinators’ Network summer field trip, we visited the AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Resource Center. AMAC, or the Alternative Media Access Center, promotes accessibility for individuals with disabilities and operates at Georgia Tech under the College of Architecture. Its offices are located in the Block Candy Company, a converted warehouse loft on Means Street.

During our tour, we explored those resources that help make events more accessible such as assistive technology, captioning, and braille. 

Assistive Technology

Did you know more than 28 million people in the United States have hearing problems? Tools for Life, Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program, is housed at AMAC and offers access to and acquisition of a variety of assistive technologies such as voice amplification devices that can be bought or rented to accommodate the hearing-impaired at various types of events. 

Tools for Life also has an event checklist and can provide accessibility consulting, as well.  

Captioning

AMAC provides three types of captioning services for their clients: real-time remote captioning, video captioning, and audio description.  In those instances in which AMAC provides real-time remote captioning, they do not charge for mileage or travel time and need only Internet access. 

According to the National Association of the Deaf, there are no set standards as to when captioning is required; however, to ensure equal access to your event, it’s important to think about your specific  audience and presenters.

Braille

Although only 5 percent of blind people utilize braille, if your event is going to include visual content (PowerPoint presentations, charts, graphics, or videos, for instance), it is important to consider having these prepared in an alternative format for those who are blind or may have low vision. 

AMAC provides braille conversion of all documents including non-textual information such as maps, paintings, graphs, and diagrams. According to AMAC, oftentimes, visually impaired guests will bring their own assistive technology such as a braille or screen reader – in which case, an accessible document would be necessary. For more information about accessible Word or PDF documents, visit AMAC’s wiki page. 

Access for All

A well-planned event ensures the participation of all, even those with disabilities.  In fact, as event planners we are obligated – by federal and state law – to consider all elements of disability access in an effort to foster full participation. So, remember to ask, at multiple points (registrations, RSVPs, confirmation emails, etc.), about any particular accommodations your guests may require. 

For more information on AMAC membership and resources, contact Kimberly Allen at 404.894.8683, or visit the AMAC website.