Accessible Events : How to make your event accessible to blind or visually impaired poeple
Making your event accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired will ensure it is suitable for the widest possible audience and allows everyone to enjoy your event comfortably and safely.
Please ensure that when you list your event on this Site you enter all the relevant information regarding provisions you have put in place for people who are blind or visually impaired.
The following information has been reproduced, with kind consent, from the NCBI. For additional information visit www.ncbi.ie directly. Not all the information below may be appropriate for your venue or event, but hopefully within the extensive information provided you shall find some useful hints on how to make your event more inclusive.
Choosing the venue
- Choose a venue that is on a public transport route if possible.
- For indoor events, ensure that the conference room has a short, logical and simple route from the reception area.
- Check that handrails are provided wherever there are changes in floor level, flights of stairs, ramps or steps.
- Ensure that glass doors and other large areas of glass are marked with a continuous band of highly visible colour, at both eye and hand level, to make the glass visible.
- Check that clear large signs, are provided internally and externally, to all entrances, rooms, lifts, toilets, café and other facilities.
- Ensure that all rooms have even lighting, without shadows or glare. Ensure adjustable blinds or curtains are provided at windows.
- Make sure emergency exits are clearly signed and evacuation procedures in place, to assist people with sight loss to exit the venue in case of emergency.
- Ensure that lift panels provide Braille markings and announce when the doors are opening and closing and the level reached.
- Ask whether there is an area for guide dog owners to take their guide dogs for a short walk.
- Corridors and reception areas should be free of any obstacle. If there is an obstacle which cannot be removed, it should be clearly highlighted. Any object that poses a danger of collision such as columns, projections or a difference in floor level must be clearly marked with a contrasting colour.
NCBI can advise further on any of these access issues – Tel: 01 8307033.
Prior to the event
- The invite to the event should be accessible. A PDF invite by email is not accessible to people using screen-reading software, therefore if you are sending a PDF, also provide the same information in text-only format in the body of the email. If you link to a website for more information about the event, the website should also be accessible . NCBI’s Centre for Inclusive Technology www.cfit.ie can offer advice on website accessibility
- On the invite, inquire about format preferences for event material. Choices should include standard print, large print, Braille, email or audio.
- Leaflets and other promotional material should also be available in accessible formats, i.e. clear print, Braille, audio, and accessible website. NCBI’s Media Centre can advise further – Tel: 01 864 2266.
- If you have input into the development of videos for the conference, consider providing an audio-description narrative. Audio description is the name given to a narrative track that assists people who are blind or vision impaired when watching a video. Audio description enriches content of visual passages in a movie for a person who is blind or vision impaired. The NCBI Media Centre offers an audio-description service.
Accessible event material
- Use Arial or other plain, sans serif fonts.
- Font size should be at least 14 point.
- Choose colours that effectively contrast with the paper colour.
- Print on non-glossy paper to avoid glare.
Provide event material in the preferred format to the person in advance so that he or she can read it before the event. Preferred formats include large print, Braille, audio and email (text-only). Advance material can include information to be shown on overheads, background information, presentation handouts and a map of the building indicating the location of meeting rooms, toilet, etc. NCBI’s Media Centre also offers a Braille transcription and audio recording service.
Preparing the event site
- If accessible signage is not provided, post large-print signs identifying conference room(s), toilet(s), etc. Size of letters on signs should be made according to the distance from which the information is to be read. Door signs should be at eye level. Find out more about accessible signage.
- Do not place signs directly onto the door as they may not be seen when the door is open.
- Make sure doors are either completely open or completely closed.
- Ensure the event room has adequate, even lighting that does not produce glare.
- Ask the person where they would like to be seated – perhaps near the front of the conference room to be close enough to see the speaker. If required, reserve seating, labelling it clearly using large print – that is, font should be at least size 16 pt or preferably larger.
During the event
Begin by asking the person what assistance he or she requires. Ask them if they would like a ‘buddy’ assigned to them – a person trained in Sighted Guide technique. NCBI can offer practical training in this technique, upon request. A ‘buddy’ can find out the person’s requirements and assist them during your event day. Their factsheet on meeting and greeting people with sight loss also offers useful advice.
A ‘buddy’ can assist a person with sight loss in the following ways:
- Describe the event room, displays, activities and table setups.
- Identify speakers.
- Guide the person to the toilets, cafe, or to his or her seat.
- Assist the person with drinks or meals and describe food selections available in the cafe.
- Read aloud inaccessible event material.
Consider providing a number of staff and volunteers at the event, wearing high-visibility clothing, who can be approached for assistance and can direct or guide people to the relevant parts of the venue.
Signing in at registration
If a person has to sign in at registration for the event, it is helpful to offer to show them where to sign. Ask the person if they would like to use a signature guide – a simple device to help a person who is blind or vision impaired to write his or her signature in the correct place. If they do, place the signature guide over the signature line, with the black side facing up, and use a paper clip to hold it in place. Tell the person what you are doing. Offer a pen to the person, place it into their hand and guide their pen to the signature line. NCBI can also offer practical training in how to use a signature guide, upon request. Signature guides are available free of charge from the NCBI shop
Tel: 01 8307033.
- Brief the speakers in advance of the event that their presentation must be accessible.
- Ask speakers to read out loud all the material on overhead slides and flip charts, including a description of graphs or images.
- Provide audio description on videos shown.
- Obtain presentation handouts from speakers in advance of the event so that they can be made available in large print, Braille, email (text-only) or audio.
- Ensure that PowerPoint presentations are accessible. The readability of a slide will be influenced by its position, size, viewing distance and colour, as well as the degree of tonal contrast between the lettering and background. It is important to remember that PowerPoint presentations should support what is being delivered by the presenter rather than supplementing it, and therefore only key bullet points should be provided.
- As a general rule of thumb, use a very minimum text size of 32pt on PowerPoint. However, the text on the slides should be as large as possible and well spaced out. Choose colours that provide effective contrast between background and lettering. Avoid setting text over pictures or textured backgrounds. NCBI can advise further – Tel:l 01 8307033.
- Ensure that glare doesn’t cause a problem. The presenter should avoid standing in front of a window or artificial light, as he or she can turn into a silhouette making it hard for the audience to see his or her face. Ensure adjustable blinds or curtains at windows are provided.
- Any announcements during the event should be given verbally, as not everyone will be able to see a notice board or read a pamphlet.
- Ensure that workshop facilitators are made aware of the communication needs of people who are blind or who have impaired vision.
- Provide note-takers upon request.
It is helpful to provide water bowls upon request for guide dogs to use.
Disability awareness training
Staff training is key to ensuring good customer service at your event. NCBI can offer training programmes for all key staff. Training allows staff to understand more about sight loss and how they can help people with sight problems to access the event. It will also teach staff how to correctly guide a person with impaired vision, and give advice on do’s and don’ts.
- For more information or to book a course, contact NCBI on LoCall 1850 33 43 53.