Public Forum: How to Plan an Accessible Event

Photo of Seattle's downtown skyline with prominent Space Needle at left

While many organizations try to be welcoming and inclusive, too often they lack the institutional knowledge needed to plan events and meetings that are accessible to people of all ages and all abilities. Accommodations are often provided in a haphazard, reactive way that is focused on meeting minimum legal requirements rather than full inclusion and universal access.

Nationwide, one in five adults reports one or more long-lasting conditions or disabilities. And many people who have mild hearing or vision impairment (for instance) don’t consider themselves to have a disability but may still feel excluded or avoid events and activities they once enjoyed because they cannot hear or see well.

Click on the image above to open the event webpage.Fortunately, clear guidelines are now available in the Community Guide to Accessible Events and Meetings. This fantastic reference produced by Age Friendly Seattle is updated regularly and available as a free download at

On May 30, the guide will be on display as event planners from private business and public agencies, accessibility advocates, and others come together for an educational forum focused on planning events that are welcoming and inclusive to all ages and all abilities. Sponsored by the Northwest Universal Design Council and community partners, this free event will feature accessibility resources, demonstrations, and panel speakers sharing their stories and answering questions.

collage of five pages from the Age Friendly Seattle Community Guide to Accessible Events and Meetings, including the cover

Click on the image above to go to the Age Friendly Seattle website. A link to the booklet is available at the top of that page.

“We love the Community Guide to Accessible Events and Meetings and it’s great to have the opportunity to let more folks know about it, and really show off some of the things that we can do to make meetings and events more accessible,” said Carli Hoki, an accessibility specialist and Northwest Universal Design Council steering committee member. “We often think about Universal Design in the context of architecture and home design but applying Universal Design thinking to planning events and meetings will help us be more inclusive.”

The forum takes place on Thursday, May 30, 2019 in the Bertha Knight Landes reception room at Seattle City Hall (600 4th Ave, in downtown Seattle). Resource tables will be available at 9:30 a.m. as well as after the forum. The forum gets underway at 10 a.m., with presentations by people who have a variety of disability types. The premiere screening of a customer service training video produced by the City of Seattle’s ADA Title II Compliance Program will take place at 12 noon.

Light refreshments will be provided. RSVP at

For City Hall access information, visit Real-time captioning and ASL interpretation will be offered during the program.

The Bertha Knight Landes Room’s assisted listening system includes a hearing loop. Individuals who wear t-coil equipped hearing aids or cochlear implants can switch to t-coil mode when the forum program starts. For others who are hard of hearing, assisted listening receivers with a choice of headphones or ear buds will be available at the door for use during the program.

To request other accommodations or for more accessibility information, contact Sarah Demas at 206-200-6801 or at your earliest opportunity.

Contributor Jon Morrison Winters and Sarah Demas co-facilitate the Northwest Universal Design Council. They can be reached by e-mail at