a lion and zebra drinking together from a water hole

An instruction manual for making animal advocacy events accessible –
from demonstrations to presentations, both online and on-the-ground

[This document includes alt text for all images]

This resource manual is available for anyone planning & facilitating an event.
It is however written specifically for those involved in animal advocacy and animal defense within the continent of North America.

The purpose of this resource is to help you help make events more accessible and more inclusive for different peoples to participate.
This resource is not intended as a resource for evaluating diversity of tactics,
nor for strategizing success within any particular campaign.


Land Acknowledgement

Understanding “Accessibility”

Questions to Ask

Event Planning

Event Preparation

Event Promotion

Event Facilitation

Event Debrief


Other Resources

This manual was prepared by Earthling Liberation Kollective (ELK)
ELK is a radical resource for species-inclusive liberation.

We advocate for transformative justice and anti-oppressive politics in response to violence against humyns, animals and the Earth.

Thanks to HalfMoon Research for their professional assistance in making this document accessible for online readers.


Land Acknowledgement

Though this is an online resource, we are forever indebted to the indigenous peoples known as the WSANEC (Saanich), Lekwungen (Songhees) & Esquimalt People’s of the Coast Salish and Straits Salish Nations, who are the original and ongoing caretakers of unceded Lekwungen territory that ELK organizes upon.

Understanding “Accessibility”

Accessibility is about making sure that spaces and events can be access by everyone who wants to enter it. It is about recognizing that some people might have attended and contributed wonderful things but were absent because the event was inaccessible or because the event didn’t clearly explain if it could accommodate special needs.

Accessibility can mean a lot of different things to different people. Every event is unique and requires different steps to accommodate everyone. Accordingly, this document cannot be a completely comprehensive resource for understanding and applying “accessibility”. So we encourage you to take the information here and adapt it, as necessary to your community needs and capacity.

For a deeper understanding of all the things that accessibility can encompass, try reading resources such as this post on Deep Accessibility.

Accessibility can include, but is not limited to, creating spaces for people with:

  • different abilities (physical and/or mental);
  • genders;
  • sexualities;
  • ethnicities;
  • races;
  • languages;
  • nationalities;
  • beliefs;
  • sizes;
  • ages;
  • incomes;
  • educational backgrounds;
  • any mixture of all the above;
  • and also those of different species.

pictures showing a person with a cane, a person using a wheelchair, a hand using Braille, hands signing, a service animal, a baby, a pregnant person, glasses, an ear and an eye.

Remember: it is not possible to design a single event that will be accessible and interest to everyone. Sometimes, accessibility needs will conflict with other accessibility needs, and so compromises will need to be made. In some situations, attendants will be animals companions (or will be “service” animals), but other attendants may have severe allergies or feel triggered by their presence. In other situations, some events will aspire to reimburse speakers with a cash honorarium, but this may necessitate a sliding pay-scale to attend. Or in other events, the attendance may be higher if happening later at night, but this may discourage people who feel unsafe travelling alone after dark.

Remember: the ways you make an event accessible are going to change. Whatever the situation, what you choose to prioritize to make accessible in an event will vary depending on your goals, your resources, and the audience that you are trying to engage. If you are hosting an event that centres animal politics and technology, you should likely prioritize making the content accessible through online attendance. Or if you are hosting an event that centres making cash-cheap vegan food, you should aim to have the event free by-donation to attend.

But inclusive programming is not about making every event available to everyone. Instead, your responsibility as an organizer is to host events that identify barriers that would make specific audiences (e.g., people interested in food politics) feel discouraged, excluded or unwelcome to attend and participate.

people marching at a rally for Gaza

Identifying barriers

Barriers to access can be:

  • Attitudinal (thoughts and assumptions that discriminate and exclude);
  • Informational (information that is not easily understandable or accessible);
  • Technology (absence of devices to provide assistance for the event); structural barriers (policies and procedures that discriminate); and
  • Physical (spaces that are not available for everyone to use) [1].

For more information on understanding cultural barriers to communities with disabilities, refer to additional resources such as this writing on Making Queer Events Accessible for the Deaf Community.

Barriers can also include triggers, which instigate positive or negative memories. Some people may not want to engage with certain topics, but this does not necessarily mean you shouldn’t plan an event about that particular topic. It does mean, however, that everyone in the world is not going to come to your event, and that’s okay. It also means that you should take extra steps towards warning attendees of the potentially triggering content, and ideally, have trained people present to assist in counselling or otherwise offering immediate support.

Being accountable

Accounting for accessibility is a practice that should always be done at the beginning of planning of an event – not as additional accommodations, nor based on the expectation that any outside individual should request that the event is made more accessible to attend. Obviously, many people’s identities and accessibility needs are not visible to event organizers – and it’s never their obligation to self-identify for you.

Failing to provide this information effectively communicates that the event organizers haven’t considered, or have not prioritized, accessibility as an issue, and/or that the event organizers do not consider peoples with disabilities as part of the community who should be present and participating in the event’s topic [2].

For the chronically ill – people who already have enough to deal with – it can be very difficult to email or phone call someone to advocate for themselves (by asking questions about event accessibility and disclosing information about their own access needs) [3].

Your responsibility as an event planner to make these efforts, and to openly acknowledge when your event fails to offer necessary accommodations, or is unable to offer something specifically requested, regardless of whether it is due budgetary limitations, resource constraints and/or lacking of proper planning.


Questions to Ask

  1. Why am I planning this event, or why do I think that this event is a priority for the community that I am apart of?
  2. Do I feel qualified to be creating space for such an event (considering my knowledge and experience)? Why?
  3. Have I intentionally consulted with other groups who I believe should participate in this event? Why or why not?
  4. Will my efforts be duplicating other efforts, or do I know what has been done before in my community and what is currently being done?
  5. Have I consulted with others about how much this event will cost in total (considering time, money, resources)?
  6. Have I made connections with others who can help make accessibility needs (e.g., interpreters) actually happen at my event? Why or why not?
  7. Will I plan to overcome any of these difficulties, rather than simply ignoring it?
  8. Are the questions listed above something I am asking myself regularly? Why or why not?

people attending a talk about Food Not Bombs

Event Planning

To ensure that your event is planned in a way that is both accessible and inclusive, ensure that during your planning you involve or at least consult with different people. Depending on the goals of your event and the desired audience, you will need to people who are from different communities and are familiar with different community needs. This affords more opportunities to receive advice and feedback early in the planning stages, and it also helps promote your event in wider social networks and so encourages greater attendance.

So if your organizing committee is all white people or all male-identified people, then it is quite likely that your event is not going to be inclusive of communities of colour, or to genderqueer communities. However, this reality does not justify tokenizing people involved to act as ambassadors of an entire community nor does it mean that your event is above scrutiny and criticisms.

An accessible space looks accommodating for child care, as well as animal care so that parents and animal care-takers can attend the event instead of declining due to responsibilities to their dependents. Involving parents and people fostering animals during the early planning stages will mean that you both account for this accessibility need among attendees, and to budget accordingly to pay someone qualified and capable of managing this event program.

“Our diversity of needs as individuals may not be visible to you and this must be taken into consideration when creating accessible and inclusive events and programming.”
– Creating Inclusive Events and Experiences, AccessAbility, UTM [4]

Choosing an Event

It is important to decide what exactly is the event being planned because these considerations impact how accessible and inclusive space can be for attendees. Some types of events are more accessible than others, and others more inaccessible, in both content and the means of the facilitation [5].

While some events require participants to stand for a long period of time or listen quietly for a long period of time, other events may be too loud, too late at night, or too physically crowded. Any of these situations may make it difficult for some people to attend or participate.

Before confirming the date of the event, find out what other events (especially those happening in different communities) are taking place in the area around the same time. This can impact your event attendance and the availability of service providers. So make the effort to schedule your events (whether a large scale one or a monthly meeting) to not conflict with other community organizing dates and times – and then try to attend these other events too to show support (assuming your attendance is welcomed, of course) [6].

Depending on the scale, set aside some funds early in the planning stage specifically to meet accessibility goals at your event. Encourage people who want to use a service (whether child-care or a sign language interpreter) to provide details to assist in your planning (i.e. so care-takers can account for number of children, ages and access needs; i.e. some Deaf people don’t know sign language and so will prefer to have the event captioned by Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART)).

Budgeting for event

Ensure that you plan early all of the accommodations for accessibility that you will want and need to make so that you can estimate a clear budget of expenses.

It is encouraged to create separate documents that track your estimated expenses (e.g., booking a venue) along with your estimated gains (e.g., donations), which should be included when contacting sponsors for funding requests.

To best estimate costs, contact local Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services for more information and contact the local Canadian National Institute for the Blind office to ask about getting materials produced in Braille format [7]. However, it is important to be aware that – on average – Sign language interpreters cost approximately $110.00 (per interpreter) for 2 hours, then $55.00 per subsequent hour [8]:

Sponsorship Requests

Make an effort to research both smaller-scale organizations and larger-scale organizations that may be interested in sponsoring your event. Depending on the extent of your community partnerships in planning this, you will have different degrees of success in convincing funders to trust in your vision.

The best thing to do is try applying to a wide range of potential sponsors, by sending them a completed budget and cover letter outlining the intention of the event; the audience expected to attend; the reason for the expenses; and why this particular sponsor should support the initiative.

Research available grants and other programs, but be aware of their deadlines.

Specific event types

Not everyone has the ability to attend physical protests. These sorts of events are often categorized as the most important or best, because of its dramatic nature – but this leaves a lot of people out. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have these events! Just that some people won’t be able to participate, and you should be aware of that.

  • What are ways that you can expand the participation in your event?
  • How can someone participate from home?
  • How can you include children and young folks?
  • How can you include older generations and the sick?
  • Is the demonstration site accessible (consider curbs, uneven ground, distance)?
  • Have you anticipated for emergencies (accidents, injuries, weather)?
  • How have you prepared for conflict with those being protested, and the police?

Recommended further reading is this writing on Sick Woman Theory.

people marching at a rally against migrant detentions

Not everyone will be able to attend an educational or academic event for a variety of reasons. If the information is upsetting or triggering, some folks might not want to attend. If it’s at night, some people might not be comfortable travelling after the event finishes in the dark. If it is happening at a university or local religious building, consider that many people do not wish to enter such spaces for very legitimate reasons. Some people might not be able to attend in person – can you offer online attendance, or broadcast the talk on the radio, or record the talk for later viewings online?

  • What are ways that you can expand the participation in your event?
  • Have you contacted anyone able to offer professional services for accessibility like Sign Language interpretation, captioning of videos and other resources?
  • Have you asked others about costassociated with accessibility and what fundraising efforts will be necessary to pay for these services?
  • How can you include people who have language or educational barriers?
  • Is the event site accessible (consider curbs, uneven ground, distance)?

a talk being delivered by We Animals

Not everyone is able to attend every kind of meetup – just consider this. If you’re doing a hike, going somewhere with crowds, spending money, expected to bring homemade food, these might all create barriers. Again, we’re not saying don’t do these events, but be considerate of any ways you can increase access for more people to attend too, and remember this when inclined to shame people who can’t or choose not to come. So for example, where possible, consider specifying if the event will be a sober space (alcohol-free) for people with addictions.

If events are happening online, remember important factors like time differences between people and that not everyone has access to a private computer with high-speed internet or with updated programs. So ask for feedback and be prepared to adapt your plans to make sure those who want to attend can do so.

  • What are ways that you can expand the participation in your event?
  • How can you make space for vulnerable communities to increase emphasis on welcoming them into your community?
  • How can you include people with low-cash income?
  • Is the meetup site accessible (consider curbs, uneven ground, distance)?

further reading includes this writing on How to Make Parties More Accessible.

a meeting of Food Not Bombs

Event Preparation



It is helpful to rely on a checklist of items for helping you remember everything to consider when preparing for an event. This can help ensure you do not neglect something during the many responsibilities required for event planning.

There are many different templates available online but aim to use one that covers a broad range of to-dos, such as this one available here.

Choosing a venue

Choosing an appropriate location for an event is just as important as the content of the event itself because the venue decides who and how many are able to attend, as well as how much they are capable of participating.

  • Choose locations that allow for ease of access for persons who use wheelchairs, scooters (larger than wheelchairs), canes, crutches, or other devices. Check the location’s accessible features for yourself and conduct an on-site visit to evaluate the space/facility [9].
  • Consult with local disability organizations to see if past events were successful in accommodating attendees in this venue.
  • Consider if the venue has messages of welcome or exclusion (bars, hotels, schools, and churches all carry different messages). Knowing the history of a place and sharing it with guests might deepen a message of cultural consciousness.
  • Choose a venue that requires private transportation to get to it may exclude some (consider when local transportation begins/end service, especially on weekends). Encourage ride shares and offer bus tickets for people who need it.


  • Meet early with the building coordinators to get general emergency information (i.e. evacuation plan) regarding the event venue.
  • Make sure the emergency plan and building features (automatic door locks after a certain time of night) give appropriate attention to the needs of people with disabilities. For example, elevators will not be available in an evacuation. Appoint one event planning member to be in charge of informing first responders of the location of anyone who is still in the building [10].
  • Check to determine whether there are visual fire alarms and whether they are audio and visual when activated.
  • See if there is a quiet room available nearby for anyone who may need it.
  • Depending on the event content, see if there is another room available for vulnerable attendees to access exclusively.
  • If the event is at night, consider the safety of women and non-binary people travelling to and from your event by connecting with a “Safe Walk” service available (available at some universities, parking complexes, or event buildings).


  • If you are serving food, ensure it is vegan.
  • Ideally, you will want to also include gluten-free options and will want to avoid food with common allergens (e.g. peanuts).
  • If food is provided buffet style, have someone be on hand to help serve people who have visual and physical disabilities.
  • Provide ingredients and nutritional information for everyone to easily access.
  • When estimating food amounts to be provided, make sure the total count includes interpreters, note-takers, attendants, child‐care attendants and volunteers.
  • If beverages are being served, including bendable straws and lightweight cups available within easy reach of people using wheelchairs or scooters.
  • Provide sugar-free beverages, juices and water for people with dietary concerns, as well as some food high in sugar (juice packs).
  • Purchase locally grown and organic food if it’s possible by connecting with local garden producers, who can often donate surplus vegetables and fruits.
  • Depending on your budget, it is better to over-order food and be ready to transport it to your local shelters to take freely.
  • Check to see if there are a local Food Not Bombs operating in your community

On-site inspection:

  • Be aware of any renovation or construction work scheduled during the time of your event, which would likely affect accessibility and event atmosphere.
  • Verify sound quality in the meeting room before the event, and attempt to make accommodations for any noise (e.g. asking facilities managers to turn down a ventilation fan, or to turn up a heater, or to open/close window blinds).
  • Lighting quality may affect people with different disabilities (e.g. those with visual impairments may require higher or lower levels of light, while those who have photosensitive epilepsy may have difficulty with poor-quality fluorescent lights, which flicker at a slower rate and can sometimes induce seizures [11]), so verify lighting quality beforehand, and if possible, select a room that offers non-fluorescent lighting. [12]


To make it easier to envision, an ideal space [13] should look like:


  • Signage for posters and directions has large-print and is an easily read font. Ideally, it includes multiple languages other than English, depending on the needs of the intended audience.
  • Mark the locations of accessible and gender-neutral washrooms, elevators, water fountains, entry-ways and exits.
  • Indicating that all parts of the event are smoke-free and free of perfume scents.

Entrance [14]:

  • Make the event’s main entrance the accessible entrance, to centre accessibility as an important component of your event.
  • Station volunteers at entrances in case anyone has questions or requires help.
  • No steps, and a door that easily opens or is push-activated.
  • Doorways should be about 1 metre wide to allow easy access for wheelchairs.

Event space [15]:

  • Plenty of space around tables, chairs and in aisles to aid in mobility of attendees.
  • Adjustable lighting for both attendees and the progression of the event (e.g., moving from a movie to Q&A).
  • Ramps to access all areas, including the stage.
  • Easy access to the outdoors to allow people to walk their service dogs during breaks or get some space to breathe.
  • The layout should be large enough to accommodate assistive listening systems, service animals, translation booths and seating for interpreters.


  • Accessible and gender-neutral washrooms are within a close distance to the event.
  • Doors with raised signs or Braille lettering.
  • Doors are automatic or push-activated.
  • Space inside must be large enough for people with scooters and power wheelchairs to manoeuvre.

Other services [16]:

  • Offering water with glasses to avoid the use of plastic water bottles.
  • Elevators should have low buttons for wheelchair users, Braille/ raised number markings or audible floor announcements for people with low vision and visual floor indicators for people who are Deaf, Deafened or Hard of Hearing.
  • Check to see if the customer service areas (i.e., counters, display tables, etc.) are low enough so that people who use wheelchairs or scooters can see over.

a march of people against Enbridge's Line 9

Parking [17]:

  • If the event is held in a location with no close-by available parking, identify a method of transportation that will assist attendees with getting to the event location (e.g., a shuttle).
  • Consider weather variables.
  • Ensure a drop-off area at front of the building is close to the accessible entrance.
  • Ensure parking spaces afford extra space to allow getting in and out of vehicles.
  • Ensure clear signage to the accessible parking as well as to the venue location (Braille and tactile signage should be available for directional assistance, and otherwise station volunteers to help direct traffic).
  • Ensure accessible transit is nearby the accessible entrance.
  • Available bicycle lockups near entrance.
  • Account for a reasonable number of accessible parking spots to be made available for the estimated number of attendees with disabilities (free of curb cut or level access from the parking area to the main entrance). [18]
  • Ensure path is barrier-free (including leaves, water, snow or ice).


Booking service providers

  • For a thorough list of accessibility-focused organizations, see here.
  • For Sign language interpreters, contact the Canadian Hearing Society [19] or the Ontario Interpreting Services.
  • For Captionists [20], contact Neeson & Associates or Alternative Communication Services.
  • For Braille materials [21], contact CNIB or Microcomputer Science Centre Inc..
  • For queer interpreters, see here
  • If an attendee has requested an interpreter, ask the individual who they like to work with and they may be able to provide you with some contacts. Otherwise ask other organizations, interpreters, students, organizers for a list of service providers.
  • Book them as soon as possible.
  • Provide them with agendas and presentation outlines in advance.
  • Interpreter students, ‘live captioning’, ASL students, or friends who know ASL, are not substitutes for professional interpreters [22].
  • When contacting a service provider, remember to communicate [23]:
  • “A name for a contact person and contact information;
  • Nature of the assignment (example: conference, meeting, education, etc.);
  • Length of the assignment;
  • How many people will be involved;
  • Location, date and time of the assignment [24];
  • The subject matter (interpreters specialize in different vocabularies, eg, particle physics or queer culture);
  • Indicate that you will provide preparatory materials ahead of time (speeches, agendas, past minutes, background info, etc);
  • If possible, indicate that your event will be chaired, facilitated or MC’ed – this helps keep people speaking one at a time;
  • If you have a limited budget, be upfront: specify what hourly rate you can pay and that you are a grassroots community group with limited funds (see more below on cash);
  • If possible, indicate that you’ve confirmed Deaf attendance;
  • If you are aware of the language requirements, state them. Eg, if the Deaf person uses ASL, Signed English, Pidgin Signed English, Oral and ASL, Oral and Signed English, etc.;
  • Mention that you welcome feedback and negotiation of terms; and
  • Promptly confirm the booking, then continue follow-up to ensure interpreters have what they need leading up to the event” [25].

Volunteer training

Train your volunteers for the event about how to respectfully interact and assist the different people who will be attending. This is extremely important for creating an accountable space and preparing for any accessibility issues that may arise [26].

For more information on how to educate volunteers in interacting with communities with disabilities, read these resources on help interacting with peoples with disabilities.

Make sure the volunteers:

  • Ensure they are trained in providing accessible customer service, anti-oppression, positive space etc.
  • Are easily identified (e.g. visible name tags or other identifiers);
  • Always ask before offering assistance;
  • Do not ask a person for information about their needs (any person will volunteer what information they think you need to know); and
  • Know all necessary accessibility information (e.g., the location of accessible gender-neutral restrooms and accessible emergency exits).

Consider offering personal/attendant care service providers who can provide assistance in the washroom (*these should be trained professionals and not volunteers*).

Event Promotion

Accessible advertising

Provide ample notice for the event to allow people to arrange for transportation, assistants or other supports they may require.

Post materials in chosen areas to reduce upon overlap and waste. Physically post the materials at an average height of 5’ above the floor to centre-line of the sign (for people in wheelchairs to still be able to read when looking upwards), and be mindful of posting materials so that it can be approached within 36” without standing within a door swing.

Ensure advertising and signage are clearly visible to a wide range of people, using multiple means to advertise (e.g. posters, flyers, personal approaches, pavement chalking, social media, email, newsletters, phone trees, etc.).

If you are promoting the event on your website, make sure the site is accessible for people who use assistive technologies (such as screen reading software).

For more information, read this resource of references for making documents and websites accessible.

The format of posters [27]:

  • Use Arial or another plain, sans-serif fonts;
  • Use large print (<22 font);
  • Use a high contrast on letters and background; and
  • Print in black ink and print on non-glossy, white paper (to avoid glare from lights).

Content on posters [28]:

  • The accessibility symbols on all promotional materials so that people with disabilities are aware that your event is accessible (use only if it is accessible) [29];
  • Duration of the event (including start and end time);
  • Costs of event (if free, then advertise that);
  • A scent‐free practice for the event;
  • Carpooling, if applicable, along with a contact email for rideshare volunteer;
  • A mobility map in promotional materials indicating the location of accessible parking, entrances and toilets;
  • Provide multi-lingual information (or at least languages commonly spoken in the community) about the event to help show respect and inclusion for others; and
  • Include a contact email or phone number for people who have questions.

Accommodating needs: 

If using a registration form, make space for people to identify their accommodations or special needs. Attendees should be asked for their preference of communication and every attempt should be made to meet that request [30].
Follow up with people who request accommodations to inform them whether or not these will be available.


Sample accessibility survey 

If possible, please indicate how you can be contacted to discuss your needs: ___________________________________________________.

__ Sign language/ASL Interpreter

__ Braille

__ Intervener

__ Assistive Listening Device

__ Note taking

__ Electronic file or audio-recorded materials

__ Large print

__ Accessible media (captioning or description)

__ Sighted guides for assistance to/from specific sessions

__ Communication Access in Real Time (CART services)

__ Closed captioned videos

__ An assistant will accompany me

________________________________________________ Other – please specify.

Image descriptions

The purpose of an image description is to describe the point of an image for those people who have vision problems which prevent them from seeing the image itself.
Providing an image description means trying to replicate the meaning of the image, though not necessarily the experience of seeing the image.

When writing a description for an image, understand what in the image is being focused on, so as to help others understand the intention and implications of the image.

Avoid making assumptions about people in images, such as defining their gender or sexuality or ability or race (as these assumptions are often wrong and misleading). But please remember that you should not be describing images differently according to your own assumptions (such as only including a person’s race or gender if the person happens to not be white or male-representing).

Accountable spaces

Avoid promoting your event as a Safe Space or Safer Space. You cannot guarantee that something unsafe will not happen, only that you are taking the necessary precautions to discourage and avoid that from happening.

So instead promote your event as an Accountable Space, where the focus is on how you as event organizers will remain responsive to any issues or feedback that arise during the course of the event preparation and facilitation.

Event Facilitation

Room set-up

Arranging furniture [33], [34]:

  • “People using mobility devices (e.g., wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, crutches, canes) can manoeuvre throughout space and use the amenities independently;
  • People who are Blind or have low vision can navigate easily and safely;
  • People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing can use assistive listening systems and see speakers, interpreters, and captioning”;
  • Priority seating is reserved for peoples with disabilities (Deaf, Deafened, Hard of Hearing, Blind, Low Vision, using wheelchairs, scooters, walkers) and the elderly;
  • All cables/cords that cross aisles/pathways are covered (so that all participants can safely traverse them), but ensure cable covers are no more than 1/2″ thick so that wheelchairs can still cross them; and
  • Water bowls are provided for service animals and there is a suitable area where service animals can relieve themselves.

Reserving Space for Interpreters [35]:

  • Ensure that they are clearly identifiable.
  • Sign language interpreters should be situated in the front of the room, proximate to the speaker, and within the sight line of the Deaf attendee (so that both the interpreter and speaker can be viewed simultaneously);
  • Ideally, use a spotlight on the interpreter if the lighting in the room is dimmed;
  • Provide an advance copy of presentation so that the interpreter will be well prepared to sign any specialized vocabulary and names; and
  • Provide CART reporters with some space for equipment set-up (e.g., if using projection equipment, then be situated in close proximity to the projection unit).



Avoid situations asking people for any government-issued ID (e.g., for registration, entering buildings, etc.), so as not to exclude or discourage trans people, migrants, homeless people and youth from attending.

If you cannot afford to make your event entirely free, use a sliding-scale by-donation payment method. This way you can still receive some reimbursement but at the discretion of the attendees and not the event organizers.

As people arrive, remember to offer transit tokens or fare for public transportation, as available. As people arrive, remind participants of the scent‐free practice, and location of accessible entrances, bathrooms, elevators, and lifts.


Before beginning the event itself, make a special priority to acknowledge the land itself that the event is happening upon and also to acknowledge the indigenous peoples who have cared for the land.

If the event is happening on stolen land, be open in dialogue that acknowledges this occupation and what responsibilities people have as settlers. It is ideal if you can make space for someone indigenous to that region to provide this acknowledgement, and then to specify what indigenous efforts could use attention and support.

Other things to remember:

  • Speak clearly and at a moderate pace, always facing audience;
  • Have people introduce themselves in as much information as they are comfortable providing, and allow opportunity to identify their gender pronouns (encourage the presenter to provide the first example to show others);
  • Introduce any of the interpreters, interveners, advisors, note takers and captionists to the participants for whom they are providing service;
  • Have presenters ask at beginning of presentation about the need for breaks; and
  • Have print copies of the presentation available at the beginning of the event.

Safety rules

Sexual and gender safety guidelines should be explained by reading agreed-upon ground rules at the beginning of every panel, lecture or workshop.

Include rules like:

  • Not to touch others without permission (always asking first);
  • Encourage people to say “no” and respect their refusal;
  • Make sure people do not stare at other or talk over others;
  • In case of any inappropriate behaviour or anyone feels uncomfortable, identify the Active Listener (designated support person) at the beginning of the event;
  • Respect that people of many different abilities may be present, and so never presume a person’s capacity due to invisible chronic illnesses and disabilities;
  • Respect that people of many different genders may be present, and so never presume a person’s gender or sexual identities; and
  • Ask for a person’s pronouns or refer to people by their clothing if you are unsure (e.g. “person with the blue hat”).

If ceremonial medicines, scents or smudging will be used, notify facilities in advance to have the space set up to do so in the safest method possible (e.g., away from smoke detectors).

Set up space where participants can go if they need to leave a workshop – ideally somewhere quiet where there isn’t pressure to socialize. Clearly identify this area (e.g. “Quiet space”, “Chill area”, “Please don’t talk to me”).


Presenters at your event may also require accommodations, so be sure to ask presenters if they have any access needs for themselves or for their presentations.

Encourage all presenters to speak clearly and to speak at a moderate pace. This makes the information easier to understand for attendees, and it is easier too for interpreters, interveners, note takers and captionists [36].

Remind presenters to adhere to the planned schedule, since people making transit arrangements or who have other responsibilities will have very little flexibility for time.

Ask presenters to use some template, (e.g. the CNIB Clear Print Accessibility Guidelines) when preparing their presentation materials [37].

If a PowerPoint presentation will be used, encourage your presenters to provide you with an advanced copy that can be converted to an accessible format (electronic text, large print or Braille) and/or used as background information for interpreters [38].



Content [39]:

  • Presenters should verbally describe contents of videos, any written materials, overheads or chalkboard notes for attendees who are Blind or have low vision;
  • Encourage presenters to produce materials in large print (16-point or larger)
  • If showing videos, encourage presenters to use captioned videos;
  • Avoid the use of colour to convey important information;
  • Use high-contrast foreground/background colors;
  • Avoid flashing animation, or otherwise, warn attendees before playing;
  • Specify the language of content (English, Spanish or some other language); and
  • Provide warning of any potentially upsetting content, with ample time for people to leave if they choose to, and specify when triggering material will be over so that people know when to return.

Formatting Accessible Materials [40], [41]:

  • Offer other ways of publishing information besides regular print, depending on the needs of your group. Make sure to ask what people need.
  • Sign Language Interpreters: helps communication between Deaf, Deafened or and/or Hard of Hearing with (non-signing) hearing people.
  • Large Print: helps attendants who have low vision – should be prepared with a font (print) size that is 16 to 20 points or larger.
  • Screen readers: software converts text that is displayed on a computer monitor to voice (using a speech-synthesizer) or to Braille.
  • Braille: for attendants who are Blind or Deafblind. It’s a tactile system of raised dots representing letters or a combination of letters of the alphabet.
  • Audio Format: for attendants with a vision, intellectual or developmental, or learning disability who are unable to read print.
  • Captioning: translates the audio portion of a video presentation by way of subtitles or captions, usually appearing on the bottom of the screen – makes television programs, films and other visual media with sound accessible to people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
  • Real-Time Captioning (CART): for attendants who are Deaf, Deafened or Hard of Hearing and who may not use sign language.
  • Computerized Notetakers: for attendants with visual disabilities because it allows them to refer to the saved electronic notes afterwards using screen reading software.
  • Windowing: for attendants who are Deaf to read by means of an interpreter who explains using sign language what other people are hearing during a video presentation or broadcast.
  • Descriptive Video Service (DVS): provides a descriptive narration of key visual elements — the action, characters, locations, costumes and sets — without interfering with dialogue or sound effects.
  • Assistive listening devices: hard-wired or wireless transmitting/receiving devices that transmit sound from the microphone directly to the listener, minimizing the negative effects of distance, noise, and reverberation on clarity – for people who use hearing aids) [42] For an Assistive Listening Device, the amplification will only come for the microphone of the speaker. If there is a question/answer session, the speaker should repeat the questions for the audience.
  • Intervenors: for attendants who are deaf-blind by offering trained special sign language that involves touching the hands of the client in a two-hand, manual alphabet or finger spelling.
  • Communication Support Attendants: for attendants with intellectual disabilities to access information presented orally at these events.
  • Attendant care services: for people with disabilities which include assistance with personal care and escorting to community outings.” [43]
  • FM Listening system: for anyone with hearing loss, and consists of a transmitter used by the speaker and a receiver used by the listener.” [44]

Anticipate the quantities of multiple format documents you will need according to the anticipated audience (e.g. if an audience is geared towards seniors, produce a greater number of printed materials in large print). Budget accordingly.


Event Debrief

Feedback Survey

  • Evaluate your outreach by asking participants how they heard about your event;
  • Use open-ended questions to allow for creative answers;
  • Allow for anonymity to encourage honest feedback;
  • Ask the participants if this accommodation is satisfactory and invite suggestions;
  • If there were flaws and limitations in the event’s accessibility, ask for input on how best to develop a solution to overcome it for the next event; and
  • Ensure there is an accessible online version of any distributed evaluation forms.

Example [45]:

  1. How likely is it that you would recommend the event to a friend or colleague?
Not at all likely – 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Extremely likely – 10
  1. Overall, how would you rate the event?


Very good




  1. What did you like about the event?
  2. What did you dislike about the event?
  3. How organized was the event?

Extremely organized

Very organized

Somewhat organized

Not so organized

Not at all organized

  1. How friendly was the staff?

Extremely friendly

Very friendly

Somewhat friendly

Not so friendly

Not at all friendly

  1. How helpful was the staff?

Extremely helpful

Very helpful

Somewhat helpful

Not so helpful

Not at all helpful

  1. Prior to the event, how much of the information that you needed did you get?

All of the information

Most of the information

Some of the information

A little of the information

None of the information

  1. Was the event length too long, too short, or about right?

Much too long

Somewhat too long

Slightly too long

About right

Slightly too short

Somewhat too short

Much too short

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the event?

Event Summary

It is strongly encouraged that a written summary is prepared and released about the event, to increase transparency of communication between event organizers and event attendees. The intention with an event summary is to recap everything that happened, including the success and failings of both planned and unplanned moments.

This summary is often necessary for reporting back to funders and community sponsors about the general success of the event, insofar as you as the organizer intended the whole event to proceed.


Because resources like this should be community-made, we are fully aware that this manual may be lacking in some way by neglecting an issue or accidentally misrepresenting another issue.

Help keep us accountable!

If you have any suggestions, we encourage you to send them to earthlingliberationkollective@gmail.com


Other Resources


[29]http://www.nsnet.org/symbols.html http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/understanding_accessibility/symbols_accessibility.aspx