Some considerations for MAKING YOUR EVENT ACCESSIBLE to people with disabilities
Thanks to Marla, email@example.com, for compiling this information
LOW VISION/ BLINDNESS
DEAF/ HARD OF HEARING
MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITIES
This web page lists some basic accommodations for people with hidden and visible disabilities who will want to attend and participate in indoor and outdoor political events, i.e. rallies, marches, meetings, etc.
People who attend political actions come from all walks of life, economics, abilities, sexual orientations, genders, generations, diverse cultures, values, beliefs, and political spectrums.
Keep in mind that when you see and or communicate with people who "look able-bodied", that they may, indeed, have hidden disabilities and will require accommodations.
HIDDEN DISABILITIES may include chronic pain, epilepsy, chronic illness, for example, multiple chemical sensitivities, chronic fatigue, and heart and lung conditions. Psychiatric/mental health issues and cognitive conditions are also not seen from the outside.
It's important, then, to not make assumptions based on what a person looks like.
It's also important to note that even if you think someone needs assistance, they may not need or want it. ASK FIRST. People will let you know.
Keep the above information in mind as you read the contents.
These lists are, by no means, meant to be viewed and or perceived as all encompassing.
For people who wish to add on more information, offer suggestions, and share feedback, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
-When publicizing your events on flyers, on-line, word of mouth, etc., include a contact number as well as a TTY number. Include a name of a contact person who has knowledge, understanding, and experience with accommodations for people to call for accommodation needs.
-Include information such as "smoke-free space", wheelchair accessible, disability parking available, ASL interpreters provided, "out of consideration for people who are chemically sensitive, please refrain from wearing perfumes and other scented products," and make it known that rides to and from events and/or vehicles will be available for marches.
By stating this information on your flyers, Jean's List, etc., it lets people know that they are welcomed and acknowledged.
-Include "to request disability accommodations, please contact _name______ at least 10 days in advance at __ phone # __,__fax __, __e-mail address __"
As a result of informing people ahead of time, your group will have time to arrange rides, acquire certified ASL interpreters, etc.
-When people contact you for rides, let them know where the vehicle will be waiting. That helps people anticipate how near or far they need to walk.
-When they call about disability parking spaces, let them know where those spaces are located and how many spaces are available.
-Do outreach to disability communities, organizations, and agencies.
-Form an Accommodations Committee along with the contact person to specifically address accommodation needs. This is helpful especially for finding out beforehand if the building that you are having events at is smoke-free, is wheelchair accessible, has accessible bathrooms, if there are steps, how many, if there are functional elevators, find out where disability parking is located, what kind of chemicals are used for cleaning bathrooms, rooms, etc., ask about acoustics, sizes of rooms, if microphones are available to magnify voices, etc.
-Having this committee in place may prove to be efficient in the long run.
-When offering rides to and from events, inform the person ahead of time so they will have time to make other arrangements, as needed.
-Have vehicles available for marches.
-Vehicles used for marches and rides should include vans, trucks, buses, etc. with lifts.
-There are various organizations that offer resources such as Washington Coalition for Citizens with disABILITIES. They can be reached at (206) 545-7055. FlexCar is also available. Some people don't require lifts.
-Inform people prior to and during the march/rally who want rides in marches where they parked. Have someone available to assist people.
-Drivers of vans, trucks, buses, etc. for people who choose to ride in the march, need to be insured. The costs of permits depends on distances. Keep in mind that people may want to ride the whole route.
-When creating a rally and march route, be conscious of the length and hills. Flat surfaces are safer and less strenuous. When finding meeting spaces, it is safer and easier for people to park on flat surfaces because being close to a curb is more accessible for people who use lifts.
-If an event is outside, announce often, prior to and during the rally, that smokers please step away from the crowd, downwind to smoke. Welcome the people back into the crowd.
-Having an area cordoned off can be helpful if it is done in a way that will not alienate the people.
-If an event is indoors, state in publicity and at events that smoking is prohibited not only within the venue but within 25-75 ft. of doors, open windows, vents, etc.
-When making contacts to find meeting spaces, ask if the building and its surrounding premises are smoke-free. Second hand smoke can also give a person with multiple chemical sensitivities headaches and other discomforts.
-To clarify the difference between smoke-free and non-smoking, if an event is non-smoking, it simply means that people aren't smoking in that specific location at that specific time. It does not mean that people are free from the dangers of second-hand smoke. Smoke-free means there isn't second-hand smoke from earlier or drifting in from another location.
LOW VISION/ BLINDNESS
-Have your publicity and reading materials/meeting agendas made available in alternate formats such as large print and Braille.
-For more information, contact Washington Talking Book and Braille Library at (206)615-0400.
-Have volunteers available for assistance. Inform people of your presence.
-Ask the person first if they need assistance. They will let you know.
-If the person asks for a ride, assist them to the vehicle. Let the person know that you are offering your arm.
-Have available front row and barrier-free seating at outdoor and indoor events and meetings.
-Dog guides are service dogs so it is important that they stay focused. Ask the person if you can pet the dog.
-Please speak in a "normal" tone of voice. Don't assume that the person has a hearing loss or is deaf. The person will let you know.
-Some people use wheelchairs for long distances, only. Inform them where disability parking is located.
-Some people would prefer using their wheelchairs when participating in a march. Offer a ride.
-When arranging for a meeting room, consider safety issues, i.e., are ramps steep, are there many stairs, are elevators functional, and are bathrooms accessible.
-Have front row and barrier-free seating /spaces available for wheelchair users as well as for other people who may need to sit down during rallies.
-Have able-bodied people available for assistance.
-If the person in the wheelchair is being accompanied by an able-bodied person, speak directly with the wheelchair user unless you are told otherwise.
-Publicize if your events are wheelchair accessible.
-All events, especially indoor events, ought to be wheelchair accessible.
-If possible, rent an accessible port-o-potty for outdoor events or have a rally where there will be accessible bathrooms available.
DEAF/ HARD OF HEARING
-Some people who are deaf/ hard of hearing don't wear hearing aids.
-Some don't use phones but prefer TTYs which are telecommunication equipment that allows deaf/ hard of hearing people to communicate with other deaf, hard of hearing (and) hearing people through a relay service. Some people have a direct TTY number. When a hearing person calls through the relay service (WA. ST. Relay Service for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing), the number you call first is 7-1-1. The relay operator will answer and will ask you for the person's phone number and sometimes the area code. Then you state your message. The operator will type it into her/his TTY and the person receiving it will see your message typed onto his/her TTY screen. As you converse with the person, remember to speak in first person. The TTY sounds like a fax machine.
-For indoor/outdoor events, and meetings that are more than one hour long, 2 certified ASL Interpreters are needed.
-Contact SignOn Sign Language Interpreting Resource 206-632-7100 (V), 206-632-7200 (TTY), email@example.com, http://www.signon.com, 2-3 weeks in advance to request ASL interpreters so arrangements can be made.
-Have interpreters available even if no one has contacted you and include that in your publicity.
-Some interpreters are willing to negotiate their fees.
-Some people may have grant money to pay for interpreter services.
-Inform interpreters what your event is about beforehand.
-Prior to the event, whether it is indoor/outdoor, it helps the interpreters to have copies of programs, agenda, speeches, etc. so they can be better prepared.
-In order for people who are deaf/hard of hearing to see the interpreters and or be able to read lips, whether the event is indoor/outdoors, unobstructed views are required.
-Have front row seating /space available.
-At indoor events, environmental noise, like fans, air conditioners, open windows and doors, music, glaring lights etc. are distractions and can make it difficult for people to fully participate in discussion and decision making and to focus on the interpreter and or speaker.
-Find out ahead of time how big the room is, what the acoustics are like, and if microphones are available.
-Announce prior to and during the event/meeting that people need to speak one person at a time, to talk in a "normal" tone unless the person requests otherwise.
-If a mike or lectern is used, the speaker's mouth needs to be visible for people who read lips.
-When speaking with a person who is deaf/hard of hearing who is accompanied by an ASL interpreter, speak directly with the person.
-When speaking with a person who is deaf/hard of hearing, stand/sit a way from the sun/glare so the person can see your facial expressions and read your lips (speech reading).
-Speech reading (lip reading) has proven to just have a 25% accuracy rate.
-Speakers at outdoor events need to be visible so people can see their faces.
MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITIES
-When you have indoor events planned, publicize "to accommodate people who have chemical sensitivities, please refrain from wearing fragrances and other scented products.
-If possible, avoid having meetings in buildings that allow smoking or where second hand smoke is allowed near by.
-Not only should events be non-smoking but smoke-free as well.
-When making arrangements for indoor events, call organization, agency, etc., beforehand to find out what chemicals they use to clean bathrooms and rooms with. Many of the chemicals used are toxic and can cause people with multiple chemical sensitivities severe headaches, breathing difficulties when exposed to smoke, fragrances and other chemicals.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT. I want to thank the various women who gave me permission to include some of their own original material.
web posted April 24, 2005, by Jean Buskin,firstname.lastname@example.org
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