Before publicizing any program or event as being accessible, it is a good idea to verify that all possible aspects of accessibility have been taken into account.
Some issues to consider:
- Is the physical location of the service, program or event, including the nearest public transportation and/or parking area and extending to the common use facilities such as rest rooms, accessible to an individual using a wheelchair or other mobility aid?
- Is there appropriate Braille signage for persons who are legally blind?
- Are appropriate audiovisual fire alerting systems installed?
- Have arrangements been made for provision of Personal Care Attendants, sighted guides, and other support personnel?
- Have interpreters, CDI's, CART providers been requested?
- Are TTY's and/or amplified phones on hand in locations where public phones are available?
- Are Assistive Listening Systems already available at the location?
While this may sound intimidating, there are many public facilities available for meetings and events both large and small that are in full compliance with accessibility standards mandated by the ADA. For more information on what those standards are, please read the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). If you have already secured such a location for your event, then your attention should shift from architectural to programmatic access.
Whenever possible, incorporate requests for communication access services and related reasonable accommodation into event registration or response forms, establishing a specific cutoff date by which you must hear from prospective attendees or participants making such requests.
Interpreters and CART providers may book themselves 3 weeks to 3 months in advance; therefore, cutoff dates for reasonable accommodations requests should be as far in advance of the actual start date as possible. This is particularly true for larger events incorporating multiple simultaneous activities requiring several interpreters or CART providers. This lead time will allow you to contact MCDHH's Interpreter/CART Referral Services and make interpreter and CART provider requests based on the specific numbers of attendees who have responded to your RSVP.
Some events should - by their nature or by the nature of the entity hosting them - be made accessible even in the absence of specific requests. For such events, ensuring a barrier-free environment and providing interpreters, CDI's and CART providers should be sufficient. Appropriate signage to that effect should be included in any event posting or flyer.
If you are planning a multi-day conference or event that includes preferred rate accommodations at a hotel, accessibility should be the first item you address when you meet with hotel management. Does the hotel have the required room accessibility kits on hand for deaf and hard of hearing conference participants? Are the common areas in compliance with applicable fire and accessibility regulations? Has their staff been trained in effective basic communication strategies? - The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has provided these trainings to numerous facilities free of charge. Please go to our training request form if you would like to request such training.
Finally, materials and handouts should be made available in alternate, accessible formats.
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.