Inclusive Event Planning

It is important to plan events ahead of time so that attendees can send accessibility requests and then hosts can make the appropriate arrangements.

Early Planning Considerations

Expand all

Early Planning Considerations

Date and time of your event

Minimize barriers related to length of day, number and duration of breaks throughout the day, availability of transportation, and religious observations (e.g. holidays that include fasting or are not the dominant holiday)

Be prepared to receive the following accessibility requests:

  • Requests to live captioning.  We do encourage all event coordinators to use captioned media, regardless of whether a request has been made.
  • ASL Interpreters (see additional notes in next section)
  • Rooms with T-Coils installed (for deaf and hard of hearing)
    • Ask ITSS for list of rooms at UMD that have this 
  • Accessible bathrooms - both in terms of wheelchair/mobility accessibility and gender inclusivity
  • Lactation rooms
  • Food sensitivities
  • Lighting or noise sensitivities
  • Wheelchair or scooter rental (available through Parking and Transportation Services)

Request interpreters & captioners at least two weeks in advance

  • See Interpreter Request Form on Disability Resources website
  • Consider these alternatives if a UMD interpreter cannot be arranged
    • Remote interpreters are available but need to consider cost and availability
    • Transcription applications that broadcast to a projector screen
    • Google Meet (just start a meeting and add captioning, connect to screen)
    • Enabling Captions in PowerPoint

Conduct an early site visit to clarify accessibility and what may require additional planning related to:

  • Location of Entrances and elevators
  • Restrooms (accessible, all-gender and transfer table availability)
  • Sufficient accessible parking and transportation
  • Audio technology (microphones, listening devices)
  • Temperature control and lighting considerations
  • Quiet spaces
  • Identify other events at the same venue that day and plan to reduce access barriers (e.g. managing noise level)
  • Consider left-handers when setting up spaces and development materials

Pre-Event Recommendations

Expand all

Pre-Event Recommendations

Marketing, Web Design & Invitations

  • Create accessible materials - see Accessible U guidelines
  • Provide accessible online registration and include fields for  preferred names and pronouns
  • Indicate access being provided (e.g. Interpreting, captioning, listening devices, audio description)
  • Include the following disclaimer: “The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.”
  • Use this language to invite accommodation requests: “To make disability-related accommodations or dietary requests, please contact <Email address> two weeks prior to the event.”
  • Invite a partner or guest, do not use ‘spouse’
  • Include accessible parking map
  • If event in Kirby Student Center, include KSC map that shows prayer room, quiet room, lactation rooms, gender inclusive bathrooms and elevator
  • Encourage a scent free environment and ask participants to consider refraining from using perfumes, colognes, etc.

Event location/venue

  • Plan for wheelchair accessible seating and paths throughout the space
  • Provide wheelchair access to stage and include ramp if available
  • Provide a variety of seating and table options (e.g. table heights, styles, sizes)
  • Avoid decorations in pathways, flash/strobe effects, latex balloons, and fog machines
  • Consider reserving a quiet room/chill zone to use as a sensory space if needed
  • Make sure areas are well lit


  • Plan ahead to provide gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher and halal options
  • Clearly label all food/ingredients and keep specialized options separate if food is prepared in the same kitchen
  • If meals are provided, offer full course options for specialized requests
  • Avoid latex products
  • Make straws available

Program Materials

  • Use high contrast images and colors for fonts.
  • Distribute all materials digitally in advance to all attendees
  • Include an agenda indicating the amount of walking/physical activity
  • Provide copies in Braille (as requested), large print and digitally on event day
  • Print preferred names on name tags in large, dark font
  • Presenter Considerations
    • Speak slowly and clearly.
    • Always use a microphone.
    • Slides: 
      • Make the presentation with high color/contrast choices 
      • Use a simple transition between slides.
      • Describe images and explain slide content
      • For digital distribution during and after:
        • Add slide numbers to each slide.
        • Check the order each slide element will be read by a screen reader. 
        •  Add alt text to images 
        • Provide robust notes in the notes field.
    • Ask people to stand as they are able if prompting attendees to stand
    • Avoid background music

Event Day

It could be useful to start the event with an access check-in. Some talking points to consider:

  • Post directional signs and, if able, station greeters at all entry points, elevators, stairs
  • Check in with audience about volume, microphone, lighting, captioning
  • Invite program attendees and guests to participate and be present, in whichever way works best for each person - listen, doodle, walk around, take breaks, eat, use technology, etc.
  • Consider table height, amount of noise, number of staff, flow of check-in process. Set up clear and spacious paths outside and inside.
  • Brief all staff and volunteers about accessibility plans
  • Ask photographers to not use flash and to seek permission before photographing people

Event Follow-up

  • Distribute promised materials and/or post online in an accessible format.  Learn more about accessible documents at Accessible U  
  • Send accessible thank you notes and evaluations regarding accessibility and inclusion
  • In follow-up and event recap meetings, discuss ways to address any inclusion issues that can be improved 

Campus Resources