This information was developed by ADA & Accessibility Services and is adapted below. For updates to this information, please see their checklist (PDF).
Making Meetings and Events Accessible
It is our expectation that all meetings and events sponsored by Virginia Tech entities are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Taking care to create an accessible event benefits not only individuals with visible or known disabilities, but also helps to ensure that all participants/attendees, including individuals with non-obvious disabilities and/or chronic health conditions, and people of all ages and body types, are able to fully engage in the program.
When you send out the invitation or notice, include a welcome message to let invitees know they can contact the planner regarding accommodations. Your message might include text such as:
“We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. To be respectful of those with allergies and environmental sensitivities, we ask that you please refrain from wearing strong fragrances. To request an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact (name, email, phone).”
One or two days before your event or meeting, send out a reminder about refraining from wearing strong fragrances. Another approach is to include a checklist in your meeting RSVP. For example:
I will need the following accommodations in order to participate:
Assistive listening device
Reserved front row seat
Advance copy of slides to be projected
Wheelchair access to working tables throughout room
Gender neutral bathroom
Diet Restrictions. List:
Make sure you follow up on all requests received. If it appears you will be unable to meet a specific request, follow up with the individual who made the request to determine whether an alternative arrangement can be made. Contact ADA & Accessibility Services for further guidance at firstname.lastname@example.org or (540)231-2010.
Look for these features when inspecting your meeting/event space:
- Clear signage (identifying location and directions)
- Well-lit meeting space and adjacent areas
- Projection screen visible from all seating (if using projection)
- Public address (PA) system
- Roving microphone
- Limit unnecessary background music
- Seating available near presenter for lip reading
- Availability of assistive listening devices
- Is there well-lit space for an interpreter if needed?
- Accessible parking near venue
- Proximity to bus stop
- Ramp and/or elevator access
- Accessible bathrooms; barrier-free pathways; wide doorways and aisles to accommodate wheelchairs/scooters; no loose cables across walking areas.
Electrical outlets in accessible seating areas to accommodate devices, laptops, etc.; extra space or work surface
Comfortable space for service animals to rest during event; accessible toileting and watering facilities nearby.
Ensure that presenters are aware of HR’s commitment to disability – inclusive meetings, and ask them to prepare and deliver their presentations with accessibility in mind.
At larger events or events with scheduled accommodations, designate someone to be responsible for accommodations as well as help with seating, ensuring captioning and other technology is working, maintaining clear pathways, or other needs.
Provide presenters with a checklist requesting that they:
- submit materials in advance so that they can be forwarded to individuals who may not be able to view screens or flip charts;
- verbally describe visual materials (e.g., slides, charts, etc.);
- have printed copies available (in larger font);
- avoid using small print on presentations that can’t be seen from a distance;
- ensure speakers (including those asking questions) always use a microphone;
- activate captions on any video used in the presentation;
- encourage hourly breaks; and
- organize breakout group activities to maximize distance between groups (e.g. each group going to a corner of the room or side rooms).
Have someone onsite who helps to ensure follow-through on all of the above.
Make sure to repeat questions posted by audience before responding, especially if there is not a roving microphone available. Presenters or audience members may express confidence that they are loud enough and do not need a microphone. Regardless, ask them to speak into one.
Clearly indicate allergens and gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or other options.
Have questions about accommodations or accessibility for your event?
Review other sections of this website on accessible event planning.
Other useful websites that can help make your event or large meeting inclusive:
Individuals who are Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing (D/HOH) may use a variety of options for communication access to an event. The best option will depend on the preference of the individual and the type of event.
Sign Language Interpreting is the translation of verbal communication to American Sign Language by the Sign Language Interpreter. Through the use of hand symbols and facial expressions, the Sign Language Interpreter conveys the meaning of the speaker’s message.
Interpreters often work in teams, interpreting for 15 minutes at a time and then taking a break while the partner interprets.
Captioning is another form of communication access. Communication Access in Real Time (CART) is provided by trained stenographers. The captions are either projected on a large screen or on a laptop computer given to the D/HOH individual. Captioning can be provided remotely. This works best for events with the presenters at a microphone. The remote captionist will work from the single amplified source.
Below is a list of sign language interpreting and captioning agencies that have been used at Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech does not have a contract rate with these vendors.
- Sign Language Interpreting
Event planners should meet with building coordinators to get general emergency information about the event venues.
Prior to starting your event, you should consider how the needs of people with disabilities will be handled in an emergency. When planning an event on campus, please remember:
- All on-site staff should be informed of emergency evacuation procedures.
- Elevators will not be available during an evacuation. If a participant is unable to exit the building, an approved safe shelter should be identified, and communicated to participants. A staff person should be identified who will inform first responders of the location of the participant who remained in the building.
The key to making events accessible and meeting compliance obligations is communication. Include a disability accommodation statement in all publicity and pre-registration materials that invites participants with disabilities to request accommodations. This will enable the event planner to arrange most of the accommodations and services in advance.
The disability accommodation statement should provide an event contact email and phone number.
“If you are an individual with a disability and require an accommodation, please contact (insert name) at (insert phone number) or (insert email) during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.”
If you are an individual with a disability and require an accommodation in order to fully participate, please indicate here .
How would you like to be contacted to discuss your needs? .
I will need the following accommodations in order to participate:
Communication Access in Real Time (CART services)
Assistive Listening Device
An Assistant will accompany me
Closed captioned videos
Pre-registration for an event provides an opportunity for event planners to provide important details about the event. A comprehensive description of the event, including location, environmental conditions, services available, etc. will help participants determine what types of accommodations may be needed. Information that is helpful to know includes the distance to parking areas, the availability of transportation services, whether the venue is air-conditioned, if assistive listening devices are available, scooter or wheelchair availability, and the availability of food options for persons with food allergies.
If an event includes overnight lodging, the event planner should investigate the accessibility features of the lodging.
Focus on the access issue and needed accommodation, not the disability of the participant. When a participant requests an accommodation, respond as quickly as possible. It may take several communications to work through the details of a particular request. In some circumstances, several options may be available to address an access need. The option preferred by the participant should be given primary consideration. If that option proves difficult to provide or you have a question about whether it is a reasonable accommodation, consult with a member of the ADA & Accessibility Team by contacting email@example.com.
Websites are commonly used to convey information about events and as a means to register to attend an event. Creating accessible websites and registration forms is critical to ensuring that persons with disabilities have equal access to information about events. Following the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines will guarantee that your web content is accessible to the broadest range of users.
Essential elements of accessible web design include:
- Providing alternate text for visual content;
- Providing text alternatives to audio content (including captioning with multimedia);
- Cascading style sheets rather than HTML tables;
- Avoiding the use of color to convey important information;
- Using high-contrast foreground/background colors;
- Specifying the language of the content (English, Spanish, or some other language);
- Avoiding flashing animation;
- Using relative units rather than absolutes (e.g., percentages instead of pixels); and
- Making all functionality available from a keyboard.
Event planners should be prepared for the possibility that presenters and attendees at your event may also require accommodations. Both should be asked about their access needs in advance of the program.
Presenters should be asked to design their program for an audience with diverse access needs.
If a presentation includes visual content (e.g., PowerPoint presentation, video, or printed charts and graphics), it will be necessary to have the visual content prepared in an alternate format (electronic format, Braille, large print) for people who are blind or have low vision. If presentation materials are provided to participants in print, the handouts must also be accessible in alternate formats, if requested.
It is also necessary to have captions for films or videos used in a program. If the video is not captioned, sign language interpreters or real-time captionists may be needed for access to video content of the meeting.
Attendees who require communication access often cannot use the telephone and are able to convey their needs more effectively by email. Attendees should be asked for their preference of communication access and every effort should be made to meet this request.
The primary types of communication access includes the use of an Assistive Listening System (ALS), sign language interpreting or Communication Access in Real Time (CART). ALS devices are available at many large lecture halls on campus and information of their availability should be on display at the event.
- Provide reserved seating in the front of the event for the attendee and companions.
- 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.
- A spotlight should be 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
- CART reporters will require some space for equipment set-up.
- Reporters using projection equipment should be situated in close proximity to the projection unit.
- Provide an advance copy of presentation to CART reporter to prepare him/her for any specialized vocabulary and names used in presentation.
Schedule your event in wheelchair accessible buildings and rooms. Conduct an on-site visit to evaluate the facility. Wheelchair access must be available in all portions of the venue that participants will be using, including the speaker’s area. An accessible restroom should be within 200 feet of the event location. Braille and tactile signage should be available for directional assistance.
Accessibility begins with parking—how people on and off campus are able to navigate to your event. Given the topography of our campus, many people with disabilities navigate campus with accessible parking and drop off areas. Survey the location for accessible parking and an accessible path of travel from the parking area. If the event is held in a location with no close available parking, identify a method of transportation that will assist attendees with getting to the event location. When planning an event with 50 or more guests, it is recommended that you contact VT Parking Services , for assistance with addressing the parking needs of your guests. The Interactive VT Campus Map can also assist you with identifying parking options for participants with disabilities.
If you must host your meeting in an inaccessible location or one in which access is not easily achievable, communicate the access plan for participants with disabilities in your pre-event publicity. Be sure to include a contact number for questions about access to the venue.
Once an accessible site is selected, the meeting room furniture must be arranged so that people who use mobility devices (e.g., wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, crutches, canes) can maneuver throughout 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; and all participants feel comfortable and ready to be engaged in the event.
Being prepared can help you handle unexpected requests. Despite all possible efforts to create an accessible event, some participants may request accommodations at the event. Cornell is obligated to make its best effort to provide access if the request is reasonable and can be readily accomplished. Staff awareness and sensitivity are essential to successfully complying with this obligation.
Be conversant with the terms used to convey positive communication with persons with disabilities. Terms such as “wheelchair bound” and “handicapped” are examples of outdated terms that present disability in negative terms.
More information about People First Language and tips on communicating with and about people with disabilities can be found at Communicating With and About People with Disabilities | CDC.
Registration workers should be well-informed about how to provide accommodations and where to obtain services. Staff should know the answers to common questions such as:
- “Do I need a VT permit to use an accessible parking space?”
(Answer: Yes, between 8:00AM-5:00PM. Accessible day permits are available at Parking Services. Car owner must have a state accessible permit or obvious temporary disability.)
- “Where is the accessible restroom and water fountain?”
- “When traveling around campus, how do I find accessible paths of travel?”
- “Are there Braille directional signs in the building?”
- “Will there be a wheelchair or scooter available to use. If not, where can I rent one locally?”
Event staff should be apprised of the general obligation to provide accommodation for people with disabilities. Staff should be prepared to offer assistance (directions for drop-off and accessible parking, seating, or using the amenities of the building, etc.).
Assistive technology is any piece of equipment, software/hardware, or product that is used to increase or maintain functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Virginina Tech is committed to providing students, staff, and faculty with the resources they need to engage independently in the campus and learning environments. This includes supporting those with disabilities through the use of assistive technology.
Current and prospective students with disabilities are encouraged to contact Student Disability Services to discuss appropriate accommodations.
Employees who are interested in assistive technology for their work space should contact Accessible Technologies.
The practice of accessible web development/design benefits people with disabilities as well as others. It also overlaps with other best practices such as mobile web design, device independence, usability and search engine optimization (SEO). Case studies show that accessible websites have better search results, reduced maintenance costs and increased audience reach. An accessible website provides a better user experience, regardless of device, language, culture, location, or physical or mental ability.
Virginia Tech is committed to diversity and inclusiveness, with the goal of providing an accessible, usable and welcoming environment to all. Accessibility should be an integral part of any web project, and all web content should conform to W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
When developing a website, consider the following:
Users with cognitive disabilities may have conditions affecting reading comprehension, learning disabilities, attention and distraction disorders, memory-related conditions, or have difficulty processing information presented mathematically or graphically.
We recommend that you assess the general usability and comprehensibility — clarity in presentation and logical and spacial organization — of web resources. Ensuring correct grammar and spelling and reducing verbal complexity will have a positive impact for users with certain cognitive disabilities, as well.
Users who are colorblind or have color weaknesses are unable to distinguish between certain colors or shades. They are unable to determine meaning when content or meaning is conveyed solely by color differentiations.
We recommend functionality or meaning not be conveyed solely by color differences. If possible, evaluate web resources with special programs that emulate various types of color-blindness.
Users who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on transcripts or captioning of video and audio content. Additionally, they may require an alternative to audio cuing.
We recommend you provide a transcript and/or captioning for video content, and a transcript for audio content.
Users with motor disabilities may have difficulties using the mouse due to injury, nerve conditions, or disease. This can affect response times and accuracy in selecting navigation items or using forms. Some of these users navigate the web via the keyboard, using the tab keys to move around pages, while others may use speech recognition software.
We recommend developers test navigation items, forms, and other control elements to be sure that they are operable via the keyboard alone. Additionally, timed actions should have the option to extend the allotted response period. If available, testing pages with speech recognition software such as Dragon is also recommended.
We strongly recommend that all web pages be tested with a screen reader on multiple platforms, including mobile devices. Visually impaired users also enlarge the screen fonts, either by using the browser’s zoom or text scaling functions, or by using screen magnification programs. These users may also set their operating system to a “high-contrast” mode or use custom style sheets to increase the contrast between foreground and background. We recommend testing all pages with high contrast mode enabled and also using a screen magnifier to make sure content is legible and logical when zoomed in.
The WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) checklist is developed by WebAIM, and is their interpretation of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines and success criteria. Unlike the WCAG 2.0 checklist, the guidelines cover a broad range of web content, and it not technology specific. The checklist provided here, offers recommended techniques for implementing HTML-related principles for WCAG 2.0 conformance.
The checklist utilizes P.O.U.R. (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust) to categorizes the different elements of accessibility. Following the recommendation in this checklist is recommended to make sure your HTML-based web applications are conforming to the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
Code Inspection and Validation Tools
Color Contrast Analyzers
Assistive Technologies (ATs) or AT Emulators
With 9 dining locations on campus, the Virginia Tech Dining staff is committed to providing a variety of food options to diners with food allergies and sensitivities. The Culinary Team and management undergo yearly training with AllerTrain, a training program which teaches food handling procedures to ensure safe delivery of meals to diners with food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities, including gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Virginia Tech Dining staff will take special requests to accommodate diners with dietary restrictions and allergies at any Virginia Tech Dining location.
Virginia Tech Dining provides helpful information on their website about managing dietary needs while on campus. The dining website also contains a list of Dining locations and daily menus for all shops.
Please note that some dining facilities on campus are not operated by Virginia Tech Dining such as the Johnston Student Center. For information about their food options, please contact management or staff at the location.
The terrace level of English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park is considered accessible. Additional information may be found on HokieSports.com.
Parking is available free of charge on a first-come, first served basis. The lot is located across the street from English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park. Improperly parked vehicles or those found in a restricted area will be towed at the owner's expense. Towed vehicles may be claimed by contacting Virginia Tech Police at 540-231-6411.
Accessible parking is available in Coliseum Lot. Public RVs must park in the Duck Pond Lot. Additional information may be found on HokieSports.com.
Blacksburg Transit provides a shuttle service at no cost from Litton Reaves, the stadium parking lot, and the track/softball parking lot. Shuttle service starts two hours prior to tip-off and ends approximately one hour post game.
The Athletics Department provides special services for fans that have purchased parking passes in advance. Handicapped parking for the public is available for a $20 fee on the day of the game in designated a parking lot (see map). A handicapped accessible shuttle is provided from this lot to the stadium.
Courtesy Shuttles will be stationed at gates inside the stadium and are available on an as-needed basis pre-game, throughout the game, and post-game.
Virginia Tech and BT Access provide parking and transportation for individuals with disabilities or injuries that prevent them from using a regular route vehicle or walking to the stadium. Parking is located in the Special Needs Lot ($20 parking fee, subject to change) in the E-Lot (Lot 20), on Stanger Street near the Perry Street intersection. Access to this lot requires a disabled parking placard or license plate. The BT Access shuttles provide service from the parking area to Gate No. 2 in the southwest corner of the stadium. Event staff will be at the gate to assist you if help is needed in getting to your seat. Shuttle service is available during and after the game to return to the Special Needs Lot from Gate No. 2.
To get to the Special Needs Parking Lot: Take Rte 460 to the Prices Fork — Downtown exit, go east towards Virginia Tech, turn right onto Stanger Street, right onto Perry Street and the parking lot will be on the right.
This service is available to individuals and their guests who park in the Special Needs Lot. Information is subject to change, to confirm please call 540-961-1185 or visit our website at www.btransit.org.