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How to Plan an Accessible Campus Event

Creating an accessible event benefits not only individuals with visible or known disabilities but also those whose disabilities may not be apparent. Accessibility also helps to ensure that all participants/attendees have access to event content as per Macalester’s goal towards Universal Design.


Is this a virtual or in-person event?  The needs may be very different depending on the space.

Budgeting and Planning

  • Have you allocated money for possible added costs related to accessibility (sign language interpreters, transportation services, additional formats for materials, etc.)?
  • Is there adequate time before the event to arrange services? Some may take a few weeks to coordinate.
  • Check what other campus partners are doing!


  • Is the location accessible to all attendees, including the presenters?
  • Virtual events: Webinar or meeting? Connect with IT if a webinar.
  • On-site: Have you looked at the venue? Are the walkways and hallways clear of furniture and wide enough for scooters, wheelchairs, and people using assistive walking devices (cane, crutches, walker, braces)?
  • Is the room close to elevators and accessible restrooms? Is there signage directing people to non-stair routes?
  • Is there appropriate directional signage to all meeting/event locations?

Food and Refreshments

  • If serving refreshments, have food allergies been considered prior to the event?
  • Do you have information about ingredients and preparation methods available?

Presentation Content

  • If you are using Zoom, do the panelists know how to use this platform?  Is there a time for training if captioners are needed?
  • Are there any captioning services or assistive listening devices needed for any attendees?  This can be done by request, but for very large events (200+) you may want to consider providing remote or on-screen captioning without request. Let IT/AV services know about captioning at least two weeks in advance
  • If the use of a sign language interpreter requested, make sure there appropriate seating choices and good lighting.
  • Have you created a plan for an alternative in case the designated equipment doesn’t work?
  • If videos are being presented, all videos/films captioned need to be either closed or open captioned.
  • If there will be visual materials such as PowerPoints, paper handouts presented/distributed, are these being distributed prior to the event?
  • Have these additional materials been created in alternative accessible formats (such as Braille, large print, audio files, Word documents) or on a website?


Make a statement! When you publicize events, include a welcome message to let invitees know who to contact about access such as:

Access for All. Macalester strives to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. To request an accommodation or inquire about accessibility, please contact (department name, email, phone).”

Contacts should be with the hosting department, not the Center for Disability Resources.

Include a copy of the accessible campus map.

Ask Specifically

Another approach is to include a link to a Google Form for specific accommodations. Some options to include:

  • Assistive listening device/microphones in-room
  • Sign Langauge Interpreting/Captioning (please request two weeks in advance) 
  • Reserved front row seat
  • Large print
  • Advance copy of slides to be projected
  • Wheelchair access 
  • Scent-free room
  • Access to Lactation room
  • Gender-neutral bathroom locations
  • Diet Restrictions (list) 
  • Other: (list)

Assign someone to follow up on all requests received. If you will be unable to meet a specific request, follow up promptly and offer alternatives if possible.

Options for interpreting/remote captioning:  Please contact Disability Resources at least two weeks prior to an event for a list of interpreting and either on-screen or remove captioning vendors.

The Center for Disability Resources can provide ideas for accessible events, but we are unable to coordinate events on behalf of departments/programs due to the number of events on campus.