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Exploring the importance of event accessibility

We delve into five key ways to plan and manage healthcare meetings that cater to all delegates.

By Vicky Gomez Gibson, Project Director at SWM Partners

Hosting meetings that enable all audience members to attend – whether that’s physically or remotely, engage in sessions, and consume important study, trial or other related information is essential.

Achieving true event accessibility, however, is multifaceted, and it therefore requires both extensive planning, and a deep understanding of your audience.

Furthermore, not only have peoples’ expectations around how they join a meeting changed – and while this is still vital – accessibility is about much more than providing physical access to an event, of which I delve into below.

Delegate registration

When developing the event’s registration portal, include dedicated sections that enable your audience to share any accessibility requirements or preferences they have, so that you can ensure they are met either onsite, or across your virtual platform.

In terms of questions to ask, they should relate to those such as physical, cognitive, hearing and visual impairments, and neurodivergent conditions.

Venue selection and facilities

When recommending and choosing host venues for in-person and hybrid events, we utilise an accessibility checklist during our site visits.

In addition to scoping out the space to ensure its suitability for the subject matter, delegate numbers, budget and so forth, this checklist is designed to ensure that venues are complete with features such as:

  • Accessible car spaces, washrooms, and other facilities, for guests, speakers, crew and all others involved in the meeting.
  • Lifts and ramps for navigating between spaces and delivering sessions on stage.Hearing loop systems and portable headsets so that those with hearing impairments can take in the learnings, as well as hear audience members’ questions if they are presenting.
  • Adjustable lighting and/or the ability to house our own kit, so that we can ensure AV technologies enhance, rather than take away from, the learning experience.
  • Additional onsite staff to accommodate the less mobile. A specialist healthcare event agency can also provide support here, spanning travel and accommodation, through to sourcing alternative seating, among many others.

If a venue you’re set on doesn’t meet your requirements, ask if it is able to accommodate your event and attendee specific requests.

Content creation and session delivery

It’s important to develop platforms such as event and registration portals, and create content including slide templates for speakers such as KOLs, educational videos, and signage for venues that can be consumed by each and every individual, and caters to their requirements as outlined at the registration stage.

This may mean paying close attention to the colour combinations you choose when designing event assets, incorporating alternative text across imagery, adding captions to slides – i​​ncluding those in braille, and in multiple languages if the event is designed for a global audience, and sourcing multilingual and sign language interpreters in physical environments.


Catering to global audiences

As many meetings in the healthcare sector often either aim to attract a global audience, or form part of a wider global series, it’s also important to understand the cultural nuances of delegates, as this will similarly determine how accessible your event is to them.

Knowledge of these should then ideally inform catering – such as providing halal, vegetarian and other options, the date of your meeting, to ensure it doesn’t conflict with key cultural events, and help you to determine if features such as prayer rooms are required onsite.

Event communications

Once the above actions have been considered and an accessibility plan finalised, look to share its contents across online and physical platforms, so that people can plan ahead – it may encourage attendance too, as they know the meeting will cater to them.

Locations to consider highlighting this information at the pre-event stage include the event’s website and delegate emails, and live communications may include the event’s app, in venue signage if the event is physical or hybrid in nature, and creating and distributing not only a general map for large events with multiple hubs, but an accessible version of it, too.

Once the event has wrapped up, include accessibility related questions in attendee feedback forms, so that you can utilise this information to enhance your approach for upcoming meetings.

Are you in the throes of planning a healthcare event?

Get in touch with our team to learn more about how we plan and manage accessible meetings for physical and remote audiences, by emailing:

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