Improving trade show access for people with disabilities
We recently came across an article by the charity and Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation ‘Attitude is Everything’ (author Jacob Adams, featured in Exhibition News Magazine, October 2018) about improving event accessibility for people with disabilities. The article mainly focussed on live music events, but we found it raised some very valid points for trade show events and exhibitions.
Having been involved in trade shows for many years, we have noticed a growing demand for improving event access for people with disabilities. Standard guidelines are usually concerned with provisions for physical access, and focus predominantly on wheelchair users. However, the definitions of disability are far wider ranging and there is a growing understanding that many impairments are not visible.
After all, less than eight per cent of disabled people are wheelchair users, and, although providing physical access is important, there are also a range of other needs to be considered. Recognising that some customers do have specific requirements in order to enjoy a similar experience to others should be part of good customer service.
Below are five tips for events as well as exhibitors that will help make a difference:
- Have access information on your website to give disabled people the opportunity to prepare for their attendance
- Provide customers with a telephone number and email address they can contact with any questions. Good access information should cover most aspects but there will always be customers with specific enquiries and offering a number of contact options gives customers a choice to use what’s most suitable for them
- Have a nominated member of staff or a team work around access so that all information is held in one place
- Offer an additional ticket for a personal assistant at no extra cost. Most disabled people require assistance and providing an additional ticket at no extra cost ensures their needs can be met without having to pay double
- Get feedback from your disabled customers. Build relationships with your customers, seek out their opinions and they may be able to suggest simple steps that could make a big difference
Attitude is Everything is a charity and Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation that works towards identifying the barriers faced by deaf and disabled people when attending live events. www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk