Ensuring Your Event Sites Are Accessible

Opening your events up to as many people as possible should be a key part of your event planning – by ensuring that as many people as possible can attend your event, you can increase your audience, provide a great event and ensure an inclusive offering.

Its unlikely that any event organiser will deliberately try to make their event inaccessible, but by missing key considerations during the planning process, set up and delivery of the event, event managers, venues and promoters can inadvertently make things more difficult for their guests.

Not only are we morally obligated to ensure access is available to all, but we are also legally responsible for compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

The primary legislation in relation to accessibility is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, however The Equality Act 2010 enforces the duty to make reasonable adjustments.  The Equality Act says there’s a duty to make reasonable adjustments if you’re placed at a substantial disadvantage because of your disability compared with non-disabled people or people who don’t share your disability. Substantial means more than minor or trivial.

Most venues and workplaces will be in compliance, or will have made reasonable adjustments to accommodate all users – whether this is in relation to their daily use, use as an event venue or as an accommodation provider.  Guests will be those who do not attend a place regularly and consideration should be given to accessing the venue, use of the venue and what happens in an emergency.

When it comes to your employees and workers, further provision would be expected if the place in question (building, site etc) was the main place of work for those requiring access provision.  In this instance, the expectation of the employer will be greater, but as the HSE states:

“In many cases, making adjustments will be simple and low cost, and an employer is not required to do more than is reasonable; for example improving access or layout, adapting work equipment or relocating a workstation.  What is reasonable will depend, among other things, on the size and nature of the business.” 

Practical considerations for Accessible Event Sites

Practical considerations will depend on the type of building or site you are working in.  Those adjustments to a permanent building will be different from those appropriate for a temporary building, venue or outdoor site.  That said, there are many products and services which allow even the most temporary of installations to offer a great degree of compliance.

Physical considerations for Accessible Event Sites
  • Ramped access/ internal/ external
  • Lifts
  • Tactile paving
  • Segregated seating areas
  • Sufficient widths of pathways and corridors
  • Parking areas close to site entrances, to the relevant standard
  • Wider seating areas, or areas where wheelchair users can remain in their wheelchair to enjoy the show or event, with a carer, assistant or colleague in the same area
  • Lower counters for service
  • Braille signage

Lighting should be of sufficient quality and light level to allow good visibility in all areas – including in the event of a power failure or emergency.  Signage should be well lit and visible.

Emergency Evacuation

In the event of an emergency, consideration should be given to how those with disabilities will exit a venue or space – they might not be able to exit the way they came in, meaning that you need to ensure they have multiple options for access.  For multi-floor venues it may be that refuges should be installed, and for outdoor venues spaces should be set aside for those who are slower to escape than others – so that rescue can be provided to them.

In addition, alarm systems should be both visual and audible – and staff should be trained to ensure that they know what to do in the event of an emergency.

To discuss making your event site accessible to all, get in touch with our team for advice.