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Inclusive Event Planning

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Stanford University ensures that its programs, services, goods and facilities are accessible to individuals with disabilities under requirements from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The ADA National Network provides a comprehensive planning guide for making events accessible to individuals with disabilities. When planning events, please consider the following:

Accommodations and Services

Under Title III of the ADA, places of public accommodation must provide auxiliary aids and services to individuals with disabilities if necessary to use the entity's goods or services. However, auxiliary aids and services would not be required if they would "fundamentally alter" the nature of the goods or services or if they would result in an undue burden.

Examples of auxiliary aids and services which may be required include:

  • Sign language interpreters
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Materials in enlarged print or braille

Examples of auxiliary aids and services which are personal, and may not be required, include:

  • Hearing aids
  • Wheelchairs
  • Personal assistants

Announcement Information

Q: How do I know what kinds of disability-related accommodations to provide at an event?

To inform guests/participants about how to request a disability-related accommodation, information must be included in flyers, advertisements or other materials distributed before an event. The announcement should include:

  • Who the request should be made to (person or office)
  • How a person can request an accommodation (phone, TTY or email)
  • When the request should be made by (date usually at least one week in advance of the event)


Disability-Related Accommodations and Services:
If you need a disability-related accommodation or wheelchair access information, please contact: ________(person/office), at phone: ________ or email: ________. Requests should be made by ________ (date usually at least one week in advance of the event).

Complete the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Request Form to schedule captioning and/or sign language interpreters upon request or as needed.

If you have any questions about requests or resources for accommodations in response to your announcement, please contact the D&A Office.

Checklist for Planning an Accessible Event

___ Contact: Did you include an announcement about how to request a disability-related accommodation in printed/advertised materials?

___ Path of Travel: Is there a step-free route from the parking lot (disabled parking spaces) to the building entrance? Is this pathway clear of obstructions/barriers and suitable in all weather conditions (e.g., rainy or slippery)?

___ Entrances: Is the primary entrance wheelchair accessible? If not, see "Signage" below.

___ Signage: If the wheelchair-accessible entrance is not the primary entrance, put a sign on the primary entrance saying where the accessible entrance is.

___ Restrooms: Be familiar with where the nearest wheelchair-accessible restrooms are located.

___ Meeting Setup:

Rooms/Auditoriums: Are all meeting rooms wheelchair accessible (i.e., elevators available for upper levels)?

Chair Setup: When a room does not have fixed seats, keep in mind two principles for setting up wheelchair seating locations:

  • The number of chairs to remove to create wheelchair seating locations depends on the total seating (see table below checklist); and
  • Wheelchair seating locations should be integrated throughout the entire seating area(s) (chairs removed should be interspersed – front, middle, back, sides of the room, etc.).

Tables/Information: Tables used for registration, interviewing, information display or other services/goods should be between 28–34" from the floor to the top of the table. If guests will be seated at the tables, knee space should be at least from the floor to the bottom of the table.

Materials: If overhead projections, easels, or dry erase boards will be used, it's helpful to provide everyone with the same information in hard copy format. In addition, some people with visual impairments require the type size to be enlarged; having a few copies on hand with 16-point font is helpful.

Food/Beverages/Info booths, etc.: Keep the following measurements in mind if you will be providing food, drinks, information, registration, use of machines/equipment, etc., at tables or booths:

  • Table height: 28–34" from floor to top of table. If you must have some food placed higher than 34", be sure that a portion of such food is available at the lower level.
  • 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 the table if guests use tables for eating, writing, interviewing, receiving services, etc.
  • Cables: Covers should be used over electrical cables or cords that cross over aisles or pathways. Cable covers should be no more than 1/2" thick for wheelchairs to traverse across them.

___ Overnight Accommodations: If your event requires that participants find overnight lodging in the nearby vicinity, please review the list of wheelchair-accessible hotels. You may want to use the International Symbol of Accessibility (see below) to identify wheelchair-accessible hotels. 

Disability Logo



Total seating capacityRequired number of wheelchair locations
over 500

6 (plus one additional space for each total seating capacity increase of 100)



Prepare your event staff to be able to answer the following frequently asked questions. If you do not know the answers to any of the following questions or have other questions about disability-related accommodations at your event, please contact the D&A Office.

I have a state-issued disabled parking placard

Q: Where is the nearest parking area?
Know ahead of time where the nearest parking area is. Disabled parking placards can be used in ANY marked parking space on campus, including A, C and Z lots, metered spaces (no need to fill meter), service vehicle spaces and disabled parking spaces. Know the step-free path from the nearest lots to your event location.

I use a wheelchair

Q: How do I get from [point A] to [point B]?
Familiarize yourself with step-free pathways in the vicinity of the event (i.e., parking lot to the main entrance) and to notable locations around campus, especially the Bookstore, Main Quad, Hoover Tower, etc.

Q: Where is the nearest wheelchair-accessible restroom?
Know ahead of time where the accessible restroom is and how to get to it from your event location.

I need amplified sound

Q: How can I obtain an assistive listening device (ALD)?
Most campus auditoriums have permanent ALD equipment (through the PA system). ALDs can also be ordered through Event Services for other venues (please allow one week's advance notice). It's helpful to have a designated event staff member in charge of disability-related accommodations and equipment (this person would be responsible for knowing where the ALDs are located and how to assist someone if such a request is made).