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So you’re going to be planning a public special event. There are so many things you’re going to have to think about like location, dates, permits and vendors, but one important thing you have to keep in mind are the steps that must be taken to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, passed in 1990 in order to prevent discrimination towards individuals with disabilities. According to adata.org these disabilities can include:
- Mobile Disabilities
- Wheelchair users
- Ambulatory Mobility Disabilities
- Visual Disabilities
- Hearing Disabilities
- Cognitive Disabilities and other Hidden Disabilities
ADA regulations were put in place to ensure comparable accessibility for people with disabilities, which can certainly be tricky when planning for special events. When planning your event, you’ll have to keep accessibility in mind.
By law, all public special events must comply with the ADA regulations, and it’s a good idea to think about these regulations in your event planning stage. One thing you may want to consider is dedicating one individual as the accessibility coordinator. This person can take care of making sure your event location, vendors, performance areas and restroom facilities are compliant with the ADA requirements.
1.) Staff and Volunteers
One of the first things that you should do when organizing your event would be to prepare your staff and volunteers with basic awareness and information about attendees that may have disabilities. You’ll want to make sure they’re aware that individuals with disabilities should be treated like any other attendee. Remind them to not act too overly protective or anxious around people with disabilities. If you see someone really struggling you can offer your help, but at the end of the day most people know what they require and will ask for help if they need it.
An important part of complying includes providing the proper information to all of your vendors. To comply with ADA regulations all people with disabilities must have comparable access to food, drink, merchandise and other services offered at the event. This means that vendors cannot be placed in any in-accessible area; vendors should also provide additional assistance to any individual that requires it.
3.) Portable Restrooms
If your event requires portable restrooms, you have to consider ADA regulations when ordering your portable restrooms. It is recommended that you provide 1 wheelchair accessible portable restroom for every 10 regular portable restrooms required. These restrooms also shouldn’t be placed anywhere that requires the users to step up on a curb or any other in-accessible location. For a quick estimate of the number of accessible portable restrooms you need for your event, check out our portable restroom calculator. It can easily estimate how many restrooms you need according to how many people you estimate will attend the event.
Also if you have rented luxury restroom trailers for public use, you must order an ADA compliant restroom trailer, because you must provide equal access to all services offered. You can’t simply get a wheelchair accessible portable restroom to be placed near the restroom trailer for all public events.
If you’re not sure about how many accessible portable restrooms your event requires, check out our Portable Restroom Calculator. It estimates the number of regular portable restrooms and enhanced access portable restrooms you require based on the number of attendees you expect, the length of your event and other determining factors.
4.) Accessibility of Performance Areas
If there’s a stage involved at your event, you have to think about making all of your performance areas accessible as well. High stages are difficult for accessibility, so you may want to consider renting portable lifts for the stages. You could also install ADA specific ramps but make sure not to make them too steep. If the already installed ramps are too steep to traverse, make sure there are staff members available on hand to help push attendees up the specified ramps.
5.) Getting to the Event
There are a few considerations that should be taken to ensure that attendees are able to easily get to your event. You should post signage to direct attendees to accessible parking spots or designated accessible drop off zones. You should also make sure that there are adequate curb ramps. If the location that you’ve selected doesn’t have enough curb ramps, you can rent portable curb ramps that can be placed around the event. You can even create signage directing people to the designated curb ramp areas.
6.) Providing Adequate Accessible Parking Spaces
When planning parking for the event, keep in mind that you have to provide designated accessible parking spaces. These spaces should allow for an aisle to allow loading and unloading of people from their vehicles. Please see the diagram provided by adata.org. You should always provide, at a minimum, the number of accessible parking spots required by law. Each state is a little different, however, so be sure to check with your state regulations to ensure you have the proper number of accessible parking spots. The ADA require one parking spot designate for every 25 total parking spots provided, which means if you have 25 parking spots available you should have 1 accessible parking spot. The calculator below can help you easily calculate the number of accessible parking spots required.
Also, for every six accessible spaces, at least one space should be van accessible. These spaces provide sufficient room to deploy a lift and should be at least 132 inches wide. For events that are catered to specific audiences, such as the elderly or certain types of fundraisers or Special Olympics, you may want to increase the number of van accessible spots to accommodate the larger number of guests that will require these accessible spots.
To help you more accurately decide how many accessible and van accessible parking spots to provide to guests, use our handy ADA Accessible Parking Spot Calculator. This tool will help you decide how many accessible parking spots are required based on the estimated number of parking spots you are planning on providing.
7.) Assistive Listening Systems
You’re bound to have attendees who have varying degrees of hearing loss attend your event, so be sure to provide assisted listening systems if you have an audio amplification system available. Assistive listening systems pick up the audio feed directly from the source and the listener can adjust the audio volume on the listening device. You should provide these listening devices to attendees and post signage around your event for the location where people can sign out these devices.
8.) Marketing Your Accessibility Practices Before Your Event
Most people with disabilities may assume that public events aren’t going to be very accessible, so it’s a great idea to let potential guests know that you’re going to accommodate their needs. Try to include statements about access on press releases and publicity materials that you send out. Place accessibility symbols on promo materials to point out the steps you’re taking to make sure they’re taken care of. If you don’t know how to adequately reach this demographic, local disability groups or organizations can assist you in making sure your bases are covered and you’re putting out the right message.
The steps provided are just a few examples of ADA regulations for public events. For a more in-depth look at these requirements and more tips, visit adata.org.