About Us

Student health 101

Cal Poly Accessible Event Planning Guide

Introduction to Cal Poly’s Accessible Event Planning Guide

To make your planning process easier and universally accessible the Disability Resource Center (DRC) has compiled the following resource page to help you in arranging your event. Gantt Chart for Applying Universal Design Principles to Programs and Presentations. The following will allow you to create an accessible event that enables for the full participation of all guests. Our resource will also help you comply with the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mission Statement

Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The intent of universal design is to simplify life for everyone by making products, communications, and the built environment more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities. Our goal is for people with disabilities to participate in university programs and activities as independently as possible, without the need for specialized assistance whenever possible.

Planning an Accessible Event:

The following guidelines for accessible events were adapted from Planning Inclusive and Accessible Events checklist from Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) at Sacramento State University and other guides. Recognizing that achieving universal design is a dynamic process, this information is designed to help ensure that campus-sponsored events are accessible to the greatest extent possible.

  • Advertising the Event

    • Include an accommodation statement on flyers, posters, and digital spaces (e.g., websites) that advertise the event. 
      • Sample statement: "Cal Poly encourages inclusivity in all its programs and activities.  If you have questions about event accessibility or anticipate needing any type of disability-related accommodation, including (but not limited to) physical access or Deaf/Hard of Hearing services, please call or email (list event sponsor contact info. here) in advance of your participation or visit. Accommodation requests should be made as soon as possible but at least 5 days prior to the event."
      • The statement should be printed in an easy-to-read font size and placed in a location that is noticeable.

    • When sharing a flyer as an image (e.g, JPG) on social media, make sure to type out the key details from the flyer in the post itself so a screen reader user can access the information (e.g., by having it read aloud).
  • Physical Meeting & Event Set-up

    • Entrances
      • Are the entrances to the buildings wheelchair accessible and clearly identified?
    • Rooms/Auditoriums
    • Seating
      • Need modified furniture such as desk or chairs? Contact this Specialist
      • Seats / wheelchair ratio (chart):

        Total Seating Capacity

        Suggested Number of Wheelchair Locations

        4-25 1
        26-50 2
        51-300 4
        301-500 6
        over 500 6, plus 1 additional space for each total seating capacity increase of 100
    • Speaker Platform/Stage
      • Is a wheelchair lift required for any of your speakers who utilize wheelchairs?
      • Did you consider alternate layouts or pathways for the room?
    • Information tables
      • The following measurements will help you to keep information, food or drink, registration, use of equipment, etc. at heights accessible to all people.
        • Table height: 28"-34" from floor to top of table.
        • Aisles: At least 36" wide for maneuverability, and up to 44" wide if goods/services are available on both sides of an aisle.
        • Knee space: 27" from floor to bottom of table, if guests will be using tables for eating, writing, interviewing, receiving services, etc.
        • Cables: Covers should be used over electrical cables or cords that must cross over aisles or pathways. Cable covers should be no more than 1/2" thick in order for wheelchairs to traverse across them.
    • Refreshment/ Information booths/ etc.
      • The dimensions above can also be used for these areas
        • If you must have some foods or information placed higher than 34", please be sure to have a portion of such foods and information are available at the lower level.
        • Is there at least 36" from the tables to the wall behind if guests will be seated at the tables?
    • Restrooms
    • Signage
      • Are you prepared to place signs showing locations of elevators, meeting rooms, restrooms (including wheelchair accessible restrooms), etc.?
      • Will these signs be located at a height where people with disabilities can easily find them?
      • Do you have the means to include Braille signage whenever possible?
    • Parking
    • Path of Travel
  • Materials and Communication

    • Person Centered Language
    • Alternative Formats
    • Communications
      • Interpreter
        • Do you have a guest that needs an interpreter? Contact this Specialist
        • Closed Captioning or notes for interpreter and guest…
          • Have notes of the workshop/conference been provided to the interpreter?
            • Providing notes prior to meetings allows interpreters to translate accurately to your guest.
          • If presenting a video, does it have closed captioning available?
        • Assistive Listening Device (ALD)
        • Note takers
      • Handouts
        • Large print sans serif (14-18 font)
        • Electronic Formats or Digital version
          • Accessible PDF/Doc./ Etc.
            • Can it read by adaptive software programs such as screen readers?
      • Webpage
        • Accessible
          • Can it be read by adaptive software programs such as screen readers?
        • Contrast/resolution at least 10
      • Customer Service when assisting…
        • Low Vision or Blind
          • Be descriptive. Say, "The computer is about three feet to your left," rather than "The computer is over there."
          • Speak all of the content presented with overhead projections and other visuals.
          • When guiding people with visual impairments, offer them your arm rather than grabbing or pushing them.
        • Learning Disability
          • Offer directions or instruction both orally and in writing. If asked, read instructions to individuals who have specific learning disabilities.
        • Mobility Impairment
          • Sit or otherwise position yourself at the approximate height of people sitting in wheelchairs when you interact.
        • Speech Impairment
          • Listen carefully. Repeat what you think you understand and then ask the person with speech impairment to clarify or repeat the portion that you did not understand.
        • Deaf or Hard of Hearing
          • Face people with hearing impairments so they can see your lips. Avoid talking while chewing gum or eating.
          • Speak clearly at a normal volume. Speak louder only if requested.
          • Repeat questions from audience members.
          • Use paper and pencil if the person who is deaf does not read lips or if more accurate communication is needed.
          • When using an interpreter, speak directly to the person who is deaf; when an interpreter voices what a person who is deaf signs, look at the person who is deaf, not the interpreter.
        • Psychiatric
          • Provide information in clear, calm, respectful tones.
          • Allow opportunities for addressing specific questions.
  • Other Arrangements

  • References & Links:

Related Content


Location: Bldg 124 (Student Services, across from Spanos Stadium)
Phone: 805-756-1395
Fax: 805-756-5451
Email: drc@calpoly.edu

Give Today

A group of young people looking very excited

Give Today

Strategic Plan

Get the Student Affairs Strategic Plan

Get the plan here