The 14th summer Paralympics have just kicked off in Rio. With over 4,000 athletes from almost 160 countries descending on Rio for this two week event, my thoughts turned to the logistics of organizing such a huge, high-profile accessible event.
Creating fully accessible events, meetings and conferences has long been the goal of the events industry but the fact is, accessibility standards and requirements vary from region to region and city to city. So how can event planners ensure that they’re doing the very best for differently-abled conference delegates who may need some additional accommodation for their special needs, especially when in any give event there could be large numbers of attendees requiring a variety of accommodations?
On top of that, the challenge becomes how to ensure accessibility in all areas – transportation, accommodation, attractions and venues?
Great Resources for Accessible Events Suppliers
The good news is that in the past dozen or so years the number of resources available to planners who are creating accessible events has multiplied exponentially. In addition to government resources, many facilities and event suppliers have produced their own accessibility guides to help market their services and facilities to planners committed to ensuring accessibility. And, taking this even further, a number of event producers have created their own checklists which are a great resource for any planner. A few great resources:
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SWFA) has created a great check list for the use in conventions, meetings and events.
Accessible Campus is a resource for educators and planners who are hosting or executing events on university and college campuses. They have created a great resource available in PDF.
From geekfeminism.wikia.com we find a comprehensive list of accessible convention venues and hotels from around the world.
With respect to transportation a simple google search for service providers in most cities will provide you with a list of transportation providers who can provide accessible services for your convention or event. For example have a look at specialneedschicago.org
Obviously, as an event planner you will want to work closely with each client to ascertain the needs of all of your delegates. Many CVBs can provide you with a comprehensive list of local suppliers to meet the needs of your differently-abled delegates. And as our understanding of the challenges faced by so many differently-abled people increases these resources will only continue to grow.
So, back to the Rio Paralympics – with each Paralympics the organizers and events industry in general learns more and more about the most effective way to ensure accessibility. As our awareness continues to grow the barriers are coming down as more and more convention suppliers are providing accessible produces and services.