Posted: Wednesday 11 September 2019
There are hundreds of major events held across the UK every year and one of the key considerations that all event planners have been putting a greater emphasis on in recent years is event accessibility for disabled attendees. Whether you’re planning a food show, a large-scale concert, a beer festival or a major street gathering; if your event wants to be a unifying true beacon for the community and attract as many guests as possible then accessibility has to be so much more than just an afterthought.
Scaffolding is an incredibly flexible temporary support system that has been helping the construction industry in one form or another for hundreds of years. It’s so flexible and affordable, in fact, that it can also be used as an ideal platform for making your events more accessible without having to build anything permanent or immovable. Below, we’ll examine four ways that scaffolding can be used to make your event more accessible.
Ensure that delegates can easily travel to and from your event location, as well as within it, without feeling like they are having to overcome any hurdles. Many people also rely on public transport, so consider locations that have decent transport links alongside accessible parking. The NEC in Birmingham includes not only accessible toilets and excellent transport links plentiful lifts and ramps. Great recent strides have been made in digital wayfinding too, with a recent investment of over £4 million in new digital displays. Of course, not all venues are quite as well featured, in which case, scaffolding can be used to quickly and affordably create structures that can transform a venue into a disability-friendly location.
Make sure that your stand is accessible to all and provide comfortable seating for those unable to stand for long periods, particularly if your event involves a stage or viewing area. According to Eventbrite, you should not only be reserving seating for disabled delegates, but also enough room for their companions so they don’t need to be separated from their parties. Eventbrite adds: “These reserved seats should have excellent sightlines to the main attraction, which may mean placing reserved areas in the front or sides of the audience.” Commercial scaffolding is ideal for creating these makeshift platforms and can be erected and dismantled as necessary.
Provide as many visual and aural aids as possible, but also try to include quiet areas for those who struggle with too much noise. When it comes to signage, too much is better than not enough as long as it’s not blocking a path or anyone’s view of the stage/stand. Use more legible typefaces and make sure signage is visible at various heights. Lighting is also key. Industry research shows that lighting can increase stand awareness by up to 50% and it’s not going to set you back a fortune. Scaffolding can be combined with a stage truss to create a clear, helpful and elegant lighting display.
Train your staff to support delegates and make sure they are prepared to help attendees with accessibility needs. This can involve anything from training them to ask guests if they require assistance (instead of assuming they require it) to using rudimentary sign language that will help point delegates in the right direction. Where scaffolding is being used, scaffolding safety sessions should be held with all staff members as there are specific considerations where scaffolding is involved. Also, remember that only trained professionals should be allowed to erect and dismantle scaffolding.