More and more often I am seeing blogger friends discussing on their sites the topic of accessibility at blogger events. Asking the question as to whether in our community – bloggers, brands and pr companies do enough for disabled bloggers? I worked as a carer for disabled adults for many years, so this is a topic close to my heart. It is essential for an organiser to be proactive during the planning process for any event. However, it is quite apparent that it is not always the case. Today I am sharing my thoughts on the importance of accessibility. This applies in every situation and workspace, not just within the blogging community.
Regardless of disabilities, everyone should be able to attend meetings, events and conferences. Access is not only about wheelchair ramps and braille signs but considering access for people with a wide range of impairments. Making sure premises are accessible for the disabled makes it open to everyone, ensuring a better event. It is vital that no one is ever prevented or discouraged from attending any event due to accessibility issues.
There are few situations when accommodations cannot be made. Taking into consideration the different needs and requirements some people may have is crucial. Disabilities could be visual, hearing or mobility related, among others. Many disabilities are invisible and hidden, so don’t assume that anyone is able-bodied / non-disabled just because you cannot see it.
Some elements to consider when planning an event are the width of doorways, could an electric wheelchair get through? Are there any steps up to the building or is there level access such as ramps or lifts? Often I see events held at accessible venues, but the event has been held in an inaccessible area such as a closed off, upstairs party room. This was the case at the last event I attended; I noticed that the venue had one lift that was out of order meaning there was no disabled access to the event or accessible toilets.
Other important factors are that carers may need to join the attendee. The emergency evacuation procedures are also fundamental. I have been left stranded with a wheelchair user as a fire alarm has gone off before with no help. As well as that plan the use of signage, lighting and decoration. It is necessary to think about those with a visual impairment, including braille, large print, electronic document accessibility, and audio versions of the text.
The blogging community is a diverse group of people, and a high percentage of our population has a disability of some type. It is necessary to focus on the person and not the disability when planning an event and to always think ahead. Take the time to consider the inclusion of everyone; it is more than just the right thing to do. Considering the importance of accessibility can only help strengthen your brand/blogger relationship and open you up to a broader pool of bloggers to work with. PR agency organisers have the ability to show all bloggers a brilliant, independent time as well as gaining respect for being a socially responsible company.
Accessibility encompasses many solutions and is an ongoing process. We all need to be responsible for working towards including more people in meaningful ways.