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What accessibility issues should I address when planning student events?

Date Updated

As increasing numbers of people with disabilities pursue educational opportunities at all levels, the accessibility of student organizations and events increases in importance.

To make student events accessible to everyone, employ principles of universal design. In other words, think about how you can design the event so that people with a broad range of abilities, disabilities, ages, reading levels, learning styles, native languages, cultures, and other characteristics can feel welcome, attend, and participate fully. Preparing your event to be welcoming and accessible to potential participants will minimize the need for last-minute, unexpected changes.

The following suggestions can guide you in making your student organizations and events universally accessible. Consider those that apply to your situation. These suggestions are taken from the checklist provided in the publication Equal Access: Universal Design of Student Organizations. School staff who support disabled students may also be able to assist you in increasing the accessibility of your event. This content does not provide legal advice. Consult your campus legal counsel or ADA/504 compliance officer regarding relevant legal issues. Consultation with your regional Office for Civil Rights (OCR) can also help clarify issues.

  • Consider diversity issues as you plan and evaluate student events and activities.
  • Assure physical access, comfort, and safety within an environment that is welcoming to visitors with a variety of abilities, racial/ethnic backgrounds, genders, and ages.
  • Make sure staff and volunteers are prepared to work with all students.
  • Assure that publications and websites welcome a diverse group and that information is accessible to everyone.
  • Assure that everyone feels welcome and can participate in events sponsored by your organization. For example:
    • Are events located in wheelchair-accessible facilities? Is the accessible entrance clearly marked?
    • Is information about how to request disability-related accommodations included in publications promoting events sponsored by your organization?
    • Is accessible transportation available for events where transportation is arranged for others?

For more information on applications of universal design in education consult The Center for Universal Design in Education.