Campus Event Accessibility Planning Guide

Proactive planning is key to ensuring equitable access to campus events.  Cal Poly Humboldt encourages the use of this planning guide and elements of Universal Design (UD) to help you and your team prepare for events to accommodate a wide range of abilities, disabilities, and other characteristics. Though the ADA/504 Coordinator may or may not be directly a part of the event, they are a strategic partner offering consultation and guidance.

DISCLAIMER: Humboldt recognizes that it may not be possible to meet all accessibility requests, however, event organizers should make every effort to take the needs of others into consideration when planning an event, as well as make reasonable efforts to accommodate specific requests when asked. Individuals who need additional guidance should review the informational links provided in this document and/or contact the ADA/504 Coordinator.


  • Talk about access and Universal Design as part of your brainstorming process.  Accessibility needs should be discussed openly and without discomfort.  Invite a variety of individuals to be part of your brainstorming process to discuss anticipated needs, including but not limited to needs that are visible as well as those that are often not visible (food allergies, post-traumatic stress disorder, breathing related illnesses, color-blindness, etc.).  The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) is an excellent source for more information on UD.
  • Identify a member on the planning team who will serve as the Accessibility Organizer.  The Accessibility Organizer will be the contact person for accessibility requests and information as well as be responsible for organizing accessibly efforts.  This individual may also consult directly with the University’s ADA/504 Coordinator.  Note, if you have an individual on your team who identifies as a person with a disability, do not automatically assign this person to serve in this role.  Allow individuals to volunteer their time and knowledge as they feel comfortable.
  • Plan your budget accordingly.  Part of every budget event should include costs for accessibility needs such as ASL interpreters, temporary ramp installations, assistive listening devices, etc.  Student groups working with a small budget can consider asking their Student Government Association for additional funds that might be needed.
  • If you are hosting a virtual/remote event, ensure the hosting platform has accessibility features enabled for use and that meeting moderators and attendees know how to effectively operate these features.

Marketing Materials:

  • Marketing materials are an essential tool for promoting events.  ALL promotional materials should have a statement that includes contact information and/or a QR code to a request form for individuals who have specific disability related questions or requests. Sample Statement for Use:
    Individuals who have mobility access requests, and/or hearing, and/or visual, and/or other specific accessibility needs, should contact [insert designated Access Organizer name] at [email and/or phone] at least seven (7) to ten (10) days prior to the event.
  • Posters and flyers:
    • Use non-ornamental font (sans serif fonts are best) and limit the use of bright/neon colors.
    • Keep the message simple providing the who, what, where, and when. 
    • Social Media posts should always include closed captioning. 
    • Emails should include plain text versions as well as an HTML version so that screen readers can easily translate materials contained in the message. 
  • Promotional materials for virtual/remote events should include information for participants on how to utilize accessibility features.


  • The location of your event should be accessible to ALL members of the campus community, including visitors if the event is open to the community.  Take time to visit multiple locations before deciding on a venue.  Care should be taken to ensure that the event location is accessible, has multiple entrances and exits that are easily identifiable, ample seating and space for those with mobility devices to maneuver, and is clear of obstacles (rocks, trees, bushes, chairs, stage props, etc.), is close to restrooms and water fountains with an accessible path of travel, provides adequate lighting and sound, and has accessible push-button or automatic doors.
  • If you are hosting an event that features loud music and/or flashing lights, advertise this in promotional materials so that individuals with sensory concerns are aware and can plan accordingly.
  • The designated Accessibility Organizer should regularly check email and/or accessibility request forms and promptly reply to inquiries.  If the Accessibility Organizer has questions/concerns regarding how to best accommodate a request, they should seek assistance from the ADA/504 Coordinator in CDRC or other appropriate individual such as a building or grounds manager as soon as possible.  Do not deny a request for an accommodation without properly vetting the request and exploring all available avenues and alternatives.

General Etiquette When Interacting with Individuals with Disabilities:

  • Train event staff on how to speak with and assist individuals with disabilities by thinking of the person first, not the disability.
  • General etiquette tips include:
    • Always ask before providing someone with assistance.
    • Do not move someone in a wheelchair unless the person has asked for assistance.  Likewise, do not move a mobility device such as a walker or cane.  Try to put yourself at eye level with someone in a wheelchair by sitting in a chair to speak with them.
    • If an individual has an interpreter, companion, or paraprofessional aid, address the individual directly.
    • Be patient and do not interrupt.  Use a normal voice level and tone and do not use patronizing language.  
    • Use “people first language”, for example, someone in a wheelchair should not be referred to as “handicapped” but rather a “person who uses a wheelchair or a “person who uses a mobility device”.
    • Best practices on how to communicate with individuals with various disabilities

Event Day:

  • Ensure event staff are easily recognizable by wearing identifiable shirts or vests.
  • Locate an appropriate number of event staff close to designated accessible seating.
  • Circulate event staff to help keep exits and walkways clear of obstructions.
  • Consider posting or handing out flyers with a QR code that links to a simple feedback form.

After the Event:

  • Meet with the planning team to review feedback forms and discuss what went well and what could be improved upon at the next event.
  • Send “thank you” notes or emails to individuals who assisted in providing accessible services, particularly for individuals volunteered their services.