If you’re planning an inclusive summer event, you need to establish what your legal obligations are when it comes to providing access for disabled individuals. Here, we take you through your basic legal responsibilities and take a brief look at what you can do to ensure your event is accessible for everyone.
The duty to make reasonable adjustments
Legally, event accessibility is covered by the Equality Act 2010 which both defines ‘disability’ and legislates for organisers’ responsibilities regarding disabled access. It makes provisions for what is known as the ‘duty to make reasonable adjustments.’
The duty to make reasonable adjustments dictates that event organisers must make reasonable changes and adjustments to ensure that the barriers preventing disabled individuals from accessing events are removed.
What constitutes ‘reasonable’?
The wording of the duty to make reasonable adjustments means there is some ambiguity surrounding the issue of what is considered reasonable.
Generally, “reasonable adjustments” are determined by the following factors:
- Practicality. Whether or not it’s practical to make accessibility changes.
- Impact. The cost of making such changes and the resources available to the organisation doing so, and how effective the resulting adjustment would be.
- Size of the organisation. The scale of the organisation and extent to which it is capable of making changes.
- Whether changes have already been made. The extent to which an organisation has attempted to make adjustments in the past can affect whether further changes are a reasonable demand.
Planning for accessibility
When planning your summer event, it’s necessary to distinguish between physical accessibility and event accessibility. The former deals with the way in which individuals move in and around an event and the facilities on offer. The latter concerns itself with the way an event makes its content publicity available and accessible to disabled individuals.
In order to ensure that they’ve considered every aspect of accessibility, organisers can start with the following four factors:
- Organisers need to consider the way products, services, and general content is delivered at an event.
- Spoken content could be made more accessible by making use of hearing induction loops, captioning, or Language Support Professionals.
- Visual content can also be enhanced by audio description.
- Other considerations include the use of flash photography or strobe lighting and the provision of a calm environment or sensory room for those individuals who may struggle with large crowds and noise levels
- Think about the ways in which individuals are going to enter, move around, and leave the venue.
- Accessible toilets should be provided.
- Wherever possible, flooring should be level and solid.
- Seating for disabled attendees and accompanying carers can also be offered.
- Promotional materials can be made in a variety of different formats.
- Many events now produce an accessibility guide prior to the event so that disabled people have all the information they need to make a decision about whether or not they wish to attend. This can be made available online and its location advertised on promotional materials.
- The booking process also poses certain challenges for some disabled individuals. While online booking services are suitable for those who cannot pick tickets up in person, they may be difficult to use for others. Consequently, it’s a good idea to have a range of booking options available.
Just as important as the time spent at the event itself is the effort required to arrive and leave the event. After all, it doesn’t matter how accessible the venue is inside if disabled visitors can’t reach it in the first place. Travel considerations should include:
- Supplying sufficient Blue Badge parking spaces.
- Whether disabled attendees can access the venue via public transport.
- When and how access details are made available to visitors.
When it comes to legal obligations for disabled access at summer events, organisers are working with some relatively vague concepts although some adjustments such as ramp access and strobe light warnings will be common sense.
Though the duty of reasonable adjustments is your primary legal reference, what is considered reasonable isn’t always clearly defined. For this reason, we would recommend working closely with legal professionals to ensure you meet your legal responsibilities and that everyone attending your event, regardless of their level of physical or mental ability, has a good time.