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Planning Inclusive Events

In planning an event using the Universal Design approach, what the ADA might call “accommodations” are instead “designed-in.” They become routine elements of an event. For example:

  • Routinely budgeting for possible sign language interpreter costs.
  • Routinely confirming accessibility, easy availability of assistive listening devices, etc.
  • Routinely using an accessibility checklist.

The MU ADA Coordinator is available to assist you in negotiating and reviewing accessibility arrangements for events, conferences and meetings. The following are guidelines for planning MU meetings; conferences; and athletic, music and theatre events with accessibility in mind. If you have questions or need further assistance, please call 573-884-7278 or e-mail

Include Information about Accommodations in the Event Announcement

Registration materials for large conferences and programs 

Here’s a checklist for event announcements (registration forms, flyers, promotions, etc):

Please check any accommodations you will need during the conference:

  • __ Sign language interpreter
  • __ Assistive listening device
  • __ Audio-taped materials
  • __ Materials on computer disk
  • __ Sighted guides for assistance to/from specific sessions
  • __ Large print
  • __ Braille
  • __ Other

Include an Accommodations Statement in Registration Forms, Flyers, Promotions, etc.


Requests should be made by (date or at 5 working days in advance of the event) and submitted to (name or office, phone, fax, e-mail).  If you have any questions or need more information, please contact the MU ADA Coordinator,, 573-884-7278.

Other Items to Review

  • Parking—are there an adequate number of accessible spaces in the vicinity?
  • Drop-off points—do you have any? These can come in handy for people with mobility limitations.
  • Wheelchair paths of travel—are there accessible paths of travel from parking and within the event venue?
  • Loaning wheelchairs—do you want to make that an option? For commencement exercises at Jesse, the Hearnes Center, and Mizzou Arena, MU currently offers this service upon request, although it is not widely publicized.
  • Accessible restroom locations—does staff know where they are?
  • Social Functions and Meals
    • Personal assistance (e.g. buffet lines)—it’s a nice courtesy to be able to offer people going through buffet lines help with getting their food and carrying their plates. Many older people appreciate it, and some people with disabilities need the help. This can be done unobtrusively by asking the servers on the line to offer assistance when it is fairly obvious the person might need assistance, or, of course, when someone asks.
    • If a sign language interpreter has been requested by an attendee, be sure the interpreter is available for pre-presentation social functions as well (see footnote for information on obtaining sign language interpreters at MU).
    • Are there seating location choices for wheelchair users and room to maneuver among tables?
    • Is the dais accessible if it needs to be?
  • Presentations
    • Lighting and acoustics—Good lighting helps many people with low vision, and reducing ambient noise (e.g. background music, loud air conditioning or heating) helps many people who are hard of hearing.
    • Use of microphones—sound amplification, even when it doesn’t seem necessary or hasn’t been requested, helps a lot of people who are hard of hearing, but may be uncomfortable asking for amplified sound.
    • Routinely provide a few handouts in large print; if there are lots of handouts, consider putting all of them on CDs.
    • If PowerPoints are used in presentations, and some attendees are blind or have low vision, read/describe what’s on the PowerPoints.

Published by the ADA Coordinator, 404 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 | PHONE 573-884-7278 | EMAIL
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Last Updated: June 22, 2016