Arranging Accessible Meetings
Considering the access requirements of disabled people
The following guidance provides recommendations which people should consider when arranging meetings. To accompany this guidance there is also a simple 10 point checklist which provides information on the minimum access requirements.
For example, access is a lot more than just physical access for people with mobility impairments. It may be about how a visually impaired person accesses written information at your meeting/event.
Leicestershire County Council is a service provider and is also responsible for exercising public functions. This means under the Equality Act 2010 we have a legal duty to ensure that wherever possible disabled people can use or receive the same services to the same standards as non-disabled people; and that disabled people do not experience unlawful discrimination. We also have a duty to anticipate that disabled people will want to use our services or be subject to our public functions and we should make reasonable changes or "adjustments" so that they are able to do so.
Under the new Equality Act adjustments must be made where disabled people experience a 'Substantial disadvantage'
For more information click on the link below.
If the meeting/event involves the public you need to consider the Council’s approved Consultation Standards that guide our approach to consulting and involving the public. One of these Standards commits the Council to ensuring “that consultation is accessible to all people who take part”. This includes using accessible venues and equipment, arranging events at reasonable times and dates to facilitate participation, providing/arranging advocacy support for people who request it and ensuring that the needs of people are catered for through, for example, language interpreters, induction loops, large print or guide communicators. Further information can be found by viewing the Council's agreed Consultation Standards
The recommendations in this guidance are not exhaustive and if you require more detailed information a contact list can be found at the end of the leaflet.
Before the meeting
Check the venue prior to booking the meeting especially if you do not know the building very well. You will need to consider buildings issues relating to the approach and entrance to the premises such as:
- adequate signage and wayfinding information
- accessible car parking/good public transport
- accessible pedestrian approaches and ramps
- steps for ambulant disabled people (people with walking difficulties)
- accessible entrance doors, space and flexible seating for reception/waiting areas.
If an external venue is deemed inaccessible for the intended meeting we should inform the venue owner of their possible responsibilities under the Equality Act.
Evaluate how disabled people will be able to move around the building and use the facilities including signage; routes, meeting rooms, accessible toilets, accessible lift, accessible eating areas, etc. (Check that the toilets have not been used for other purposes such as storage.)
You may need to consider venues with contrasting colour schemes for people with visual impairments and good acoustics for people with hearing impairments.
Make sure the venue organisers know in advance that disabled people are attending so they don’t make a last minute change to your room arrangements.
Arranging the meeting
- Ask - about particular access requirements when notifying people of the meeting including any speakers etc. This is particularly important because what might be helpful to one disabled person may not be helpful to another person with a similar impairment. If you are not able to meet someone’s specifically requested access needs, please ensure that they know in advance.
- Involvement – consider how you can involve disabled people in planning your event.
- Food - if supplying refreshments ask if people have any particular dietary requirements. It is important that delegates have lunch/coffee in the same venue as often much networking is done at these times. (If it is not possible, you may need to make arrangements for the food to be brought to the disabled person and that they have company.)
- Regular breaks - are essential for people with learning disabilities and for people with other impairments.
- Public transport - ensure that the venue is within easy reach of public transport and that there are setting down/dropping off places near to the building.
- Map - provide a map locating the venue, parking, rooms, toilets etc.
- Receiving visitors - provide someone who is trained in communication skills to welcome the participants. You may need to provide facilitators to assist people throughout the day.
- Reception - if there is a reception area, inform the staff of the names of the participants and provide someone to sign them in, as for example, literacy could be a problem or someone may be visually impaired.
- Layout – think about the layout of the meeting room, especially if there will be a fair amount of discussion. Lines of sight between the Chair/speakers and disabled participants need to be good e.g. hearing impaired people who communicate through sign language need to see the interpreter. Think about space for wheelchair users.
(Placement of screens for displaying presentations or overheads is also important.)
- Workshops - if you’re planning separate work groups think about who you group together to maximise the use of the facilitators, e.g. people with hearing impairments with speech to text facilitator.
- Awareness - ensure that any chairperson, speakers and presenters are aware of the requirements of disabled participants.
- Identify fire evacuation policy and procedures including requirements for assisting disabled people out of the building.
Have you arranged the necessary auxiliary aids for each meeting? You may need to consider-
- flexible seating arrangements with and without arms/cushions and a selection providing a variety of seat heights and high backs etc.
- tables for people who find it easier to have something to rest on or organise their papers on.
- information in accessible formats e.g. Braille, large print, audio tape, electronic formats such as word documents, video with sub titles. Remember to think about colour contrasting such as avoiding blue and red for people who are colour blind when using power point presentations/overheads etc. Make sure presenters are aware of these access requirements.
For more information please contact staff in the Policy and Partnership Team, Chief Executive's Department
- Where possible the agenda/minutes/documents (in accessible formats) should be sent out well in advance. Have copies of overhead presentations available. Changes to the agenda during the meeting can sometimes be inevitable but should be avoided where possible as this can be very confusing for people with limited literacy.
- verbatim speech-to-text transcription service. For more information contact:
Action Deafness, Tel: 0844 593 8440,
Minicom: 0844 593 8442
Fax: 0844 593 8441
- a portable induction loop system/permanent loop system. (Consider a roaming microphone/radio microphone.)
The County Council has two portable loop systems which can be borrowed free of charge - please contact:
Reception Tel: 0116 305 8315
- Also think about lighting levels in the meeting room and throughout the building.
Have you arranged any necessary communication requirements and facilitators etc?
- sign language interpreters/communicators
- lip speakers
- deaf-blind manual communicators
- note takers
- translators for people who prefer to communicate in languages other than English
- facilitators and personal assistants. Think about the facilitators’ needs. You may need to book more than one facilitator if the meeting is going to last for a long time. Some participants may need assistance throughout the day e.g. getting around the building and assistance at meal times etc.
(Allow delegates/attendees to bring their own assistants/support workers without any additional costs.)
For information about booking interpreters contact Pearl Lingustics
Evaluate –You should ask participants what worked and what may need to be done to improve. This can be used to develop best practice.
Organisations and people who can help:
There is a wealth of local/national knowledge & experience contact –
- Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Centre for Accessible Environments
Tel/text: 020 7840 0125, Fax: 020 7840 5811,
- John Lager, Building Services Surveyor,
Tel: 0116 305 8152,
Fax: 0116 305 6722, Email:email@example.com.
Page Last Updated: 15 August 2011