Creating Accessible Events: A Checklist for Programmers, Organizers, Advertizers, Speakers and Event Attendees

Updated on 1/7/13 with new community additions

Below is a non-comprehensive work in progress checklist for planningaccessible events that Femme Monster and I have started. Great additions have been made by Sasha D. We want this list to grow and be a resource for organizers and programmers. If you would like anything added to the list, please comment below or contact me.



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7 responses to “Creating Accessible Events: A Checklist for Programmers, Organizers, Advertizers, Speakers and Event Attendees

  1. Thank you for compiling this wonderful list! This is a great resource :)

    I wanted to add another very important aspect which I found missing here – sexual safety. For me this is an accessibility issues, because spaces that aren’t safe in this respect make themselves inaccessible for women, queers, trans people and others.

    In the events that I organize, I always make sure that we have a sexual safety committee – at least 2-3 people who are responsible for making sure people aren’t being harassed sexually or gender-wise.

    Here are a few things we did in a recent bisexual conference that we organized here in Israel/Occupied Palestine:
    – Assembled a sexual safety committee well ahead of time so they could plan out their strategies for preventing and dealing with harassment.
    – Compiled sexual and gender safety guidelines (I’ll list them below).
    – Had posters designed which explained some of those guidelines.
    – Read out the guidelines at the beginning of every panel, lecture or workshop, and pointed out the sexual safety committee so that people could approach them.
    – Printed out fliers explaining consent.
    – We also had a little safer sex corner, where people could get free condoms and latex gloves.
    – One thing we wanted to do but couldn’t make it is to make sure every space had at least one volunteer that people could approach at any time about this.
    – Another thing we should have done in advance (and realized it too late) was to make sure all speakers are aware of these rules, and especially to make sure that they would give trigger warnings in advance in case they’re going to discuss triggering material.

    In the guidelines, we told people:
    – Not to touch others without permission, always ask first.
    – To allow people to say “no” and respect their refusal.
    – To make sure not to stare at people (and be aware of the difference between pleasant glances and unpleasant staring).
    – To be aware that there were people of many different genders around, and to always ask for a person’s pronouns.
    – To never presume people’s gender identities, since some people don’t necessarily present in a way that reflects their gender.
    – To be aware that there are people of many different sexual identities around, and not to presume that everyone is bisexual or pansexual.
    – To not presume that everyone present is attracted to more than one gender, and to be respectful of all sexualities.
    – To not presume that everyone present are sexual (some people are asexual).
    – To not presume that everyone is interested in being hit on – always ask first.
    – In case anyone feels uncomfortable, to approach the sexual safety committee.

    At the conference, we had one incident where a few women felt uncomfortable at the presence of one certain man (who had a history of perpetrating sexual harassment and assault). We – three people from the organizing and the sexual safety committees – consulted about it briefly, and that person was requested to leave (in private). I’m very proud of how we dealt with this one, and a lot of people remember this as a living proof of our commitment to keep the space safe.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful list. I will definitely share it with folks and consult when I’m involved in future events. I wanted to offer a couple of suggestions.
    In terms of setting up the event, it’s also important to avoid requirements that people show ID (for registration, entering buildings, etc.). So many trans people, immigrants, homeless people and youth have a hard time with accessing ID.
    For speakers, it is helpful in terms of accessibility for trans people not to refer to anyone in way that genders them unless they are certain of how the person prefers to be gendered. So, unless a person you are calling on has told you they identify as a man, don’t say, “Yes, the man in the back.” Instead say something like, “Yes, the person with the hat on near the door.”
    In terms of anxiety, I have found it helpful at conferences and such if there is a space where I can go if I need to leave a workshop where there isn’t pressure to socialize or anything, where I can just sit or pace or do whatever I need to do. So if it’s possible, having a sort of quiet room available can be good.
    While I don’t have diabetes, my understanding is that for many people who take insulin it is at least as important to have a lot of juice packs around or other easy sources for sugar as it is to have food that isn’t high in sugar.
    Also, I have heard that some animated gifs especially with flashing lights can trigger seizures, so for speakers using multimedia presentations or for people doing online outreach, it may be helpful to avoid those animations or at least give warnings before they play.

  3. Reblogged this on nonviolentrage and commented:
    I saw this link and had trouble finding it again by googling. There’s a lot in here, much of it stuff I’m trying to learn slowly, but it is great and people should go read it.

  4. This is good. I would add that an entire transcript should be provided for all that is being spoken by the event-planners (not just media content), to the best of their ability (this may be difficult with improv, etc). Also, when the audience people say things, those things should be repeated by the event-planners or hosts or whoever so that they can be clearly heard.

    • The transcript is a good idea for speeches, but I am not sure what this would like for other kinds of events, where the speaker might not even know what they are going to say, or don’t have the resources to transcribe it. Also, I think speakers echoing back quiet audience comments could be useful (again if the speaker or event planners are able to in the first place), but it also could get weird if the audience member is sharing something personal, specific to their identity or what they are saying is just shitty/oppressive/microaggressive. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to reconcile all of this?

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