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Accessible events matter.

Events — both in-person and virtual — can be challenging for people with disabilities. By prioritizing accessibility in early event planning stages, we can all help break down these barriers.

Wondering how to make an event accessible? Start blazing an accessibility trail at your next event with these best practices.

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1. Use people-first language.

Refer to the person first, disability second — as in “a guest with a disability” rather than “the disabled guest.”

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2. Collect requests for accommodations and adjustments at registration.

An accommodation (or “adjustment” in some regions) is assistance that allows a person to fully participate successfully with dignity. These could include a reserved parking, sign language interpreter, sighted guide, wheelchair charging stations, or anything else that helps a participant engage more completely. 

By planning for accommodations in advance, you’ll help provide full and equal access to everyone.

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3. Take “invisible disabilities” into account.

Just because you can’t see a disability doesn’t mean it’s not there. Disabilities that limit intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior — such as autism, traumatic brain injury (TBI), attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia (difficulty reading), dyscalculia (difficulty with math), and other learning disabilities — can majorly affect the way neurodiverse individuals consume event content. 
Remember that people with intellectual disabilities are still people who experience a full range of emotions. Be kind and open, use simplified language, and treat people as you would your peers. Whenever possible, create multisensory content that fits various learning styles (e.g., long and detailed vs. short and concise).

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4. Make sure virtual events meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

WCAG is the gold standard for accessibility guidelines. It’s an internationally recognized set of testable criteria to measure accessibility against.  

For more on accessible virtual events, complete the “Get Started with Web Accessibility” trail on our online learning platform, Trailhead.

How to support communities and individuals through accessible events.

  • Make content compatible with screen readers (software that allows users to read text on the screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display)
  • Provide alternatives for non-text content so it can be changed into other forms, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols, or simpler language
  • Use image descriptions and alt text to describe relevant images
  • Offer sighted escorts, trained volunteers to help guide guests to a specific area of an event or building
  • Create high-contrast signage, which makes it easier for users to see content

  • Create captioning or subtitles for all media (including videos, audio clips, and presentations). Use a human captioner for live and remote events
  • Proactively hire a sign language interpreter for live events. For virtual events, use Virtual Relay Interpreting (VRI) 
  • Use accessible streaming services — including Google Meet, Google Livestream, Zoom, and WebEx. Zoom even allows a human captioner 
  • Offer assistive listening devices. These are amplifiers that bring sound directly into the ear  
  • Use a note taker to record highlights and action items 
  • Reserve front-row seats for lip-reading

  • Use low-height counters at the welcome desk, registration areas, displays, and snack stations 
  • Reserve seating for those who use mobility devices 
  • Make paths and entryways attainable with smooth terrain, stage access for speakers, and elevators 
  • Ensure restrooms are accessible with grab bars, wide stalls, and low-height sinks 
  • Designate a rest area for service animals 
  • Provide wheelchair-friendly travel accommodations and routes

  • Share maps ahead of the event, and be sure to include quiet rooms 
  • Manage crowd control with clear wayfinding signage and guidance 
  • Consider hosting a petting zoo for animal-assisted therapy

  • Remember, just because two people are in the same disability community doesn’t mean they need the same types of support 
  • Speak directly with individuals to determine what would be most helpful for them
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Championing disability inclusion at Dreamforce 2022.

Every year, we make strides to become more inclusive at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce software conference. Learn about the exciting accessibility experiences we offered at Dreamforce 2022.