Event management: best practice for disabled participants

Setting the scene

A nationwide organisation that regularly holds internal and external events throughout the UK, has a strong commitment to equality for all. However they slipped up on one occasion and a disabled person was excluded from an event because access issues had been overlooked.


The organisation wanted to raise the disability awareness of their event organisers to ensure that this did not happen again. They wanted to equip their events team with an understanding of the range of reasonable adjustments that need to be made to ensure that barriers don’t exclude disabled people.


The organisation met with Mary-Anne to discuss how she could assist with their requirement. Mary-Anne was chosen because of her strong and knowledgeable understanding on meeting the needs of disabled people. Because she is also an event manager, they felt that delegates would appreciate the fact that she understands their work, the pressures they are under and the issues that they face.

It was agreed that she would deliver training on running inclusive events to key employees. The training focused on best practice and included an overview of the Disability Discrimination Act (now part of the Equality Act 2010), there being a legal requirement to give disabled people equal rights to attend, participate in and enjoy services, which include events.

Delegate material included an access audit template and a venue planning audit to assist delegates. The training was designed to give the delegates the confidence and competence to deliver inclusive events.


The organisation sees real business benefits to bringing in-house, their knowledge and ability to make events inclusive, particularly:

  • getting things right from the start, especially the choice of an accessible venue, saves money – last minute changes are costly
  • encouraging applications from disabled people ensures that the organisation fulfils its aims and objectives
  • improving their overall level of customer service can really make a difference to disabled peoples’ lives
  • removing the risk of treating a disabled person unfairly and having legal action taken against them