EVENT PLANNING TIPS

                                   Rice University
                                 Ley Student Center
                           713/348-5841, adarice@rice.edu

Departments and various campus entities frequently plan, sponsor and offer events for the public
either individually or in conjunction with an off-campus organization. Such events may be:

               An annual symposium
               A multi-day professional meeting
               A class or camp for youth
               A seminar series
               A lecture or discussion session by invited experts

Whatever type of event your department holds for the public, this brochure includes disability-
related information and tips that can be useful. From building access to meeting special format
needs for handouts, the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that events for the public need
to be accessible to all people who wish to attend and participate.

This may mean one or more of the following will be needed for someone to fully benefit from
your planned event:

               A fully accessible location for the event, including restrooms, eating venues,
                seating, etc.
               An Assistive Listening Device (ALD) to enable a hard-of-hearing person to hear
                the proceedings
               A sign language interpreter for a person who is deaf and uses American Sign
                Language as his or her first language
               Preparation of program or event hand-outs in alternative formats, such as Braille,
                for persons who cannot access standard print
               Having a wheelchair lift van for transport of a participant who uses a chair IF
                transport of all others is being provided for event attendees
               Arranging for an attendee who needs handicap parking to be close to where the
                event is being held
               Meeting special dietary needs as you plan meals

To assure special needs are met, that the planning staff is adequately prepared, and any
accommodation needs are met in a smooth, responsive manner, the following tips are provided:

    1. Designate someone on the event team to manage special requests that may come from
       attendees or presenters.
    2. Include a statement on publicity and announcement materials (including e-mails)
       requesting people who want to attend and who have special needs to contact your
       designated event team member directly.
    3. Ask attendees to notify you of special needs at time of registration, if registration is
       involved, or in a timely manner.
    4. For special diet needs, include a space on the form being used for registration (paper and
       on-line) where attendees can make these requests.

Suggested statements to use on event announcements are:
       People having disability-related needs should contact _____, e-mail & phone then listed.
A two-week notice is appreciated.

        While most rooms are wheelchair accessible, advance notice is appreciated if wheelchair
access will be needed so we can plan accordingly. A courtesy of two weeks notice is requested.

        Attendees requiring documents in alternative formats, or other special access provisions
are asked to notify _______ at least two weeks in advance.

Meeting Special Needs Requests

It is a GOOD IDEA for the event person who will manage access needs to familiarize him or
herself with the areas being used so that direct questions can be responded to with ease. Knowing
which side of the building has a ramp or which entrance has an automatic door opener can greatly
help the attendee reach your event without delay or undue stress.

Many accommodation or disability-related requests are easily met by event planning staff. Most
campus buildings are easily accessed and should be able to meet the physical needs of people
attending. On occasion, a person may just need an assurance that there will be an elevator to an
upper floor, that the restrooms will be accessible, etc.

Providing alternative format materials for attendees can be managed through these steps:
    For someone visually limited, enlarge the document to font 18 or larger produce large
        print. This can be done using a copier or just from your original document itself.
    For Braille, this can be handled on campus for most things. Contact Disability Support
        Services for help in meeting a request for Braille. Having your documents in standard
        word files will make the process quick and easy.
    Some people who are blind or print disabled may wish to have the documents on a disc
        for future reference. Just copy your files onto a disc for them.

To meet the needs of attendees who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, follow these steps:
    For a person who uses a hearing aid, they may wish to use an Assistive Listening Device
       to boost their ability to hear a speaker. Rice has a number of these, and some campus
       rooms are wired specially to meet this need. Contact Disability Support Services for the
       loan of an Assistive Listening Device – sometimes called an FM or loop system.
    An attendee who is deaf will communicate with your event team about his or her special
       needs in advance, usually by e-mail or possibly via a TTY relay operator. American Sign
       Language interpreters may need to be hired to fulfill access needs. Disability Support
       Services can give you names of local firms for interpreters or make arrangements for you.
    On rare occasions, simultaneous real-time translation of a speaker(s) will be requested.
       Contact Disability Support Services to explore this.
Accommodation Costs

There usually is little or no cost involved in providing for the special needs of your event
attendees. When outside services, equipment or experts are needed, however, such as sign
language interpreters or a wheelchair lift van, the sponsoring department or center is responsible
for the costs. Keep this in mind in event budget planning.

If presenting an event on campus jointly with a professional or outside organization, explore cost
sharing if accommodation needs prove costly.

If Rice space is contracted for by a non-university entity for a private event, perhaps a play, the
event is not a Rice event even though it is held here. In these instances, the contracting entity is
responsible for providing accommodation needs and managing requests for disability-related

The university’s legal obligation to meet the disability-related needs of the public is triggered
when an event is sponsored under the auspices of a university entity.

Communication Tips

       Talk to the person with the disability, not his or her companion.
       When talking with a person who is blind, introduce yourself as you begin conversation.
        Do not raise your voice.
       Speak to people who are deaf as you would to anyone else. Exaggerated pronunciation
        can lead to mistakes in lip reading.
       Where possible, sit down to be eye level when communicating with a person who uses a
        wheelchair. Do not lean on the wheelchair, as it is part of the user’s personal space.

The person who has a disability is a PERSON first with more similarities to non-disabled persons
than dissimilarities. Language is powerful, both negatively and positively. Examples to
acknowledge the person rather than the disability when communicating are:

           “Gary, the man who is deaf.” – POSITIVE versus “The deaf man, Gary.” –
           “Susan is a wheelchair user.” – POSITIVE versus “Susan is confined to a
            wheelchair.” – NEGATIVE

Parking & Campus Transportation

All campus visitor parking lots have ample handicap parking spaces. The majority of campus
shuttle buses have wheelchair lifts, and the drivers are trained on proper techniques to safely
assist a person using a wheelchair get on and off the bus.

In the few instances where disability conditions necessitate the visitor park as close as possible to
the building where an event is being held, we may be able to make special arrangements before
the event. Contact Disability Support Services or Parking Control to explore provisions to
authorize the attendee into a restricted parking lot for the event. No assurances should be made
that a special parking arrangement will be available, however.


To top