With You All the Way

by Sharron Campbell,

Certified Meeting Professional, 30 years experience

Revised ADA requirements for meeting and event planners 

Facility signage for disabled 

Revisions and additions to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) that went into effect in 2011 and 2012 are still not well known to many meeting and event professionals. Compliance must be considered for all future bookings and, as a matter of fact, budgets and arrangements may need to be revised for functions already booked if the potential for legal issues is to be avoided. Additional questions of attendees with special needs as well as the facilities you have booked may need to be asked.  Examples:

  • Translation services such as a sign-language interpreter or real-time transcription for attendees who have auditory or vision impairments. 
  • A broader interpretation of what qualifies as a service animal and the need for greater sensitivity about admitting those that are assisting people whose disabilities are not visible, such as autism.
  • Expanded physical access to buildings and function space to accommodate larger wheelchairs and other mobility devices such as golf carts.
  • Increased number of seats designated for wheelchairs and wider aisles around buffets and staging.
  • Updated reservation systems to accommodate guests with auditory and visual impairments.
  • New devices to accommodate access into pools and spas for the physically disabled.

Tips to consider:

  • Add an audio component to your event website and to e-invitations posted online to help users with visual impairments. 
  • Primary consideration must be given to requests made by disabled individuals, but the assistance required may be more easily satisfied than you would initially expect.  For example, auditory assistance requested may be satisfied with closed captioning (text displays) on all visual presentations rather than providing a sign-language interpreter.  Many who are hearing disabled are not fluent in sign-language so it would be an unnecessary expense.  Place a call as soon as you receive a request to clarify exactly how the special needs can be satisfied.
  • A Center for Independent Living (CIL) that is operated by and provides services to people with disabilities is available in most cities.  Invite a representative to accompany you on site visits to help spot areas that would not be apparent to you but would need to be addressed with the venue or facility you are considering for your meeting or event.

 bluebullet  Go to PCMA Convene Article-August 2011 for more detail and ADA links
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