With 15% of the world’s population having some form of disability, it’s important to create experiences with accessibility in mind. That’s over a billion people who might have limited access to events if people don’t consider inclusivity.
In the UK, the 2018 Papworth Trust report discovered 22% of disabled adults report having little choice over their free time. Many people have difficulties accessing services in towns – especially for leisure. This leaves them feeling like they don’t have enough choice or control over what they can do.
In fact, 75% of disabled people have had to leave a shop or business due to the lack of understanding or awareness of their needs. You don’t want people to be unable to attend your event because of a lack of planning.
Common barriers to accessibility identified in the Papworth Trust report include:
With the right planning, you can ensure more people can attend your event. Of course, not every event can be fully accessible, but you’ll notice the benefits if you make reasonable adjustments, remove barriers to movement and inform your audience about the venue and what to expect.
Back in 1999, the Institute for Employment Studies estimated that the spending power of the disabled was £51.3 billion a year. Fast forward fifteen years, in 2014, the Department for Work and Pensions estimated that the spending power of families with at least one disabled person was over £200 billion a year.
Although the press release focused on high street businesses, many of the points can be applied to events too, namely that companies could “effectively be turning away the custom of 1 in 5 people by not attracting disabled people.” In the UK, failing to cater for disabled people means excluding more than 12 million customers and their families.
“That’s the equivalent to the populations of London, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Cardiff and Manchester combined,” Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper said. “It’s not just about fairness, it makes good business sense to be accessible.”
They also highlighted some of the easy, low-cost ways to start improving accessibility:
- Clearing clutter from corridors and aisles
- Printing menus, leaflets and brochures in at least 12-point font (14 point is ideal) and being prepared to do larger print if requested
- Training staff so they are confident in offering assistance when requested, for example, reading a menu out loud or writing down a pric
- Provide parking for disabled customers or make sure staff know where the nearest suitable parking is located
One of the venues that receives a lot of recognition for accessibility is the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park today, which won the Selwyn Goldsmith Civic Trust Award for inclusive design. In honour of architect Selwyn Goldsmith, the award recognises “an environment or building that is responsive, flexible, welcoming, easy to use and occupy; allowing all to use with dignity and equality.”
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was designed with the help of disabled people with the aim of being as accessible and inclusive as possible. Facilities across the park include: