The following content is based on the Inclusive Cities Co-design Toolkit "Access Guide" resource page.
An access guide is an effective way to introduce people to an event they are invited to participate in. It contains detailed information about the event, the venue, the agenda, the location and any specific accessibility accommodations that have been arranged. An access guide can also include images of the venue (inside and out) and/or of the participants, as well as a map of the venue and directions on how to get to it. The images and map can help orient participants ahead of time to the location or to the people who will be present.
Although the creation of an access guide requires considerable time and resources, it is a worthwhile effort. It will make your event more accessible and inclusive by making it easier to get to. It helps participants know what to expect and can reduce anxiety and stress levels for participants attending an event in an unfamiliar environment. Once created, it can be reused for various events held at the same venue.
The following Word document provides an example Access Guide that can be adapted for your context and needs:
The outline below provides a list of items for consideration when creating an access guide.
- Brief project summary
- Goals of the co-design event
- Program and schedule of the co-design event
- Point of contact for any further questions or feedback
Available accessibility features and services
- Information about the accessibility services offered at this event, such as sign language interpretation, live captions and audio description
- Who participants can contact to find more information about the available accessibility options and services at your event (e.g. accessible washrooms, child care)
- Specific rules and policies about your event, such as being scent free
- How the event accommodates personal assistants, young children, and service animals
- How participants can inform you of their accessibility needs and food sensitivities
- Information about available formats for any instructions or other information (e.g. digital, braille, audio files)
Getting to the event by public transit
- Schedules of accessible buses, trains, shuttles, or any other form of accessible transportation to your event
- Availability of accessible elevators on the closest train or subway station and their distance to the event
- Availability of shelter at the bus stops
- Accessibility of the pathway from the transit stop to the venue
- Availability of shuttle services to the event
- Any other notes to consider, such as road construction, transportation service disruptions, special schedules, etc.
Getting to the event by walking/wheeling
- Presence of stairs or any sudden changes in the ground level on the way to the event
- Any other barriers that affects using the sidewalks, such as snow, ice, standing water, trees, construction work, temporary closures, garbage bins, sandwich boards, etc.
Getting to the event by driving
- The number of available designated parking spots for people with disabilities and whether they are indoor or outdoor
- Distance of the parking spots to the main entrance
- Information about the availability of curb cuts, night lighting, and accessible elevators from the parking area to the venue
- Accessibility and location of pay stations
- Any other notes to consider, such as accumulation of ice, snow, or water in the designated parking spots
Accessibility of the venue
- Information about wayfinding systems and signage in the exterior and interior spaces at your venue
- The width of the hallways, doorways, and available space for mobility devices
- Information about the doors, such as heavy fire doors, automatic doors, push buttons, secured entry, etc.
- Availability and location of the accessible elevators
- Availability and location of designated areas for resting, nursing, praying or meditating
- Availability and location of accessible and gender-neutral washrooms
- Specific instructions about using the washroom features and accessories, such as locks, toilet flush, faucets, dispensers, etc.
- Information about water fountains, kitchens, or other common eating areas or food services in the building
- Information about the nearest accessible washrooms and water fountains if there are none at the event
- Availability of temporary ramps, handrails or any other assistive devices if there are stairs on the main interior pathways
- Reminder to keep the event scent free by avoiding perfumes, heavily scented body products or laundry detergents, and direct contact with incense, cigarettes, or other things that create smoke
Accessibility of the furniture and interior equipment at the venue
- Availability of various tables and chairs with different dimensions to accommodate different mobility devices and different bodies
- Availability of reserved spots in the room or at different working stations for mobility devices
- Availability of extra spaces/seats for personal assistants and service animals
- Information about any rest areas for service animals
- Layout of the room(s) you will be using
- Available features to adjust lighting and reduce glare, such as dimmable lights, blinds and drapes
- Available features to adjust distracting sounds and background noises
- Any other notes regarding floor coverings and tripping hazards, such as electrical wires
- List of available equipment, materials and tools that will be used in the co-design activities
Code of conduct considerations
- Reminders to be aware of how people identify themselves and to use their preferred name and pronouns
- Reminders to be considerate when speaking with and addressing others, and to consider other's individual communication needs
- Reminders to warn the group if they are going to speak about topics that might be triggering for others
General information that makes the event more accessible and inclusive
- Clear instructions about how to access the Wi-Fi network (if available)
- Information about any video surveillance, video recordings, or collection of user information via sensors and cameras during the event
- A brief bio of all participants (if applicable)
- Information about the timing of your event, your level of flexibility with the schedule, and if you can allow for more frequent or longer breaks as needed