Accessible & Inclusive Event Planning

Early Planning Considerations

Date, time, & format 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). Consider opportunities to minimize access impacts and/or viral transmission: hybrid events and encouraging masks can provide greater access. 

Be prepared to receive the following accessibility requests:

  • Captioning
    • Encourage event coordinators to use captioned media regardless of the request status
    • Turn on AI-generated captioning and advertise that you will do so. This helps people with access needs determine if they need to request accommodations, or if their needs will be met by your inclusive practices
  • 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 allergies/sensitivities: make sure to send requests to Dining Services & consider sharing Nutrislice information, as applicable
  • Lighting or noise sensitivities
  • Wheelchair or scooter rental (available through Parking and Transportation Services)
  • Remote or hybrid alternatives to entirely in-person events
  • Information about ventilation and COVID mitigation measures

Request interpreters & captioners at least two weeks in advance

  • For ASL interpreter requests to accommodate students and/or guests, your department will use Interpreter Request Form on Disability Resources website
  • For ASL interpreter requests to accommodate staff and/or faculty, please reach out to UMN UReturn to request interpreter(s): [email protected]
  • Consider these alternatives if a UMD interpreter cannot be arranged
    • Remote interpreters are available, but event planners need to consider cost and availability
    • Transcription applications that can connect to projector screen
    • Ava
    • Google Meet (just start a meeting and add captioning, connect to screen)

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

  • Entrances and elevators
  • Restrooms (accessible, all-gender and transfer table availability)
  • Sit in each accessible seating location to assess equity in experience
  • Sufficient accessible parking and transportation
  • Audio technology (microphones, listening devices)
  • Temperature control and lighting considerations
  • Adjacent quiet spaces for participants
  • 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

Marketing, Web Design & Invitations

  • Create accessible materials - see Accessible U guidelines
  • Provide accessible online registration and request 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 [insert your event contact] two weeks prior to the event.”
  • Invite a partner or guest, do not use ‘spouse’
  • Include accessible parking map
  • If event in Kirby, 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; test these spaces during rehearsals, etc.
  • 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


  • Follow up to make sure caterers are aware of food allergies reported through your accommodations notice
  • 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

  • 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
  • Consider the color choices and contrast of all materials
  • Presenter Considerations
    • Check the order each slide element will be read by a screen reader
    • Include alt text on all images (
    • Consider color/contrast choices and avoid the use of flash or strobe effects
    • Speak slowly and clearly
    • Always use a microphone
    • Describe images and explain slide content
    • 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:

  • Check in about volume, mic function, lights, etc.
  • Invitation to participate and be present however works best for each person – listen, doodle, walk around, take breaks, eat, use technology, etc.
  • Post directional signs and, if able, station greeters at all entry points, elevators, stairs
  • Use an inclusive check-in process
  • Consider table height, amount of noise, number of staff, flow of check-in process
  • Brief all staff about accessibility plans
  • Set up clear and spacious paths outside and inside
  • 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
  • Send accessible thank you notes and evaluations regarding accessibility and inclusion
  • Planning committee follow-up meeting to address any inclusion issues that can be improved in events that follow

Campus Resources

UMD Disability Resources

Specific Needs Maps

UMD Commission on Disabilities

Kathryn A. Martin Library 

UMD Campus Climate

UMD Office of Diversity and Inclusion

UMD Accessible Academic Technology Team

Parking and Transportation Services (wheelchairs, scooters, and other adaptive equipment available)