Make your Event Accessible and Inclusive

Resource | juin 27, 2024

According to the Canadian Survey on Disability, 27% of Canadians aged 15 and over have one or more disabilities that limit their daily activities. 

Making your event accessible and inclusive is not just a nice thing to do; it is the right thing to do! It ensures that no one is left out from receiving your message, participating in your activities or program, or being part of your network. This inclusive approach that welcomes diverse voices and perspectives benefits our organizations, parks, cities, and society as a whole!

Whether planning a nature walk, park picnic, planting workshop, a music/arts event,  or an online webinar, it is essential to create a welcoming, safe, and respectful environment for participants of all abilities, backgrounds, ages, and gender identities!

Here are some valuable tips to help you plan accessible and inclusive events.

Wheelchair user in a park

Why Does Event Accessibility Matter? 

Let’s Talk About Disability Justice

“We move together as people with mixed abilities, multiracial, multi-gendered, mixed class, across the sexual spectrum, with a vision that leaves no body-mind behind.”

~ Julie Nowak, multiply-disabled and neuroqueer educator, consultant, and writer; and Kristie Cabrera, queer, Latine, neurodivergent, accessibility and inclusivity consultant.

Disability justice is both a framework and a movement dedicated to creating a less ableist and more equitable world. It goes beyond simple governmental compliance and addresses all types of disabilities—not just those related to mobility issues—to promote comprehensive inclusivity. 

Learn more:

EcoWisdom-Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guides, Vancouver, BC. Photo Credit: Britt Permien. Description: The image shows two women sitting on a bench in a park; one with her eyes closed and the other wearing sunglasses and smiling.

Accessibility Is a Proactive and Collaborative Approach

Planning an event involves juggling many tasks, like finding a venue, arranging food, materials, registrations, and keeping everyone informed. Sometimes, accessibility needs are considered only as an afterthought, if at all. 

The key is to consider the many barriers that can exist for people with different abilities and backgrounds and address them at the event’s planning stage. Before you plan anything, develop a checklist of accessibility needs (see the Park People checklist below) and prioritize them based on their importance. 

Remember, accessibility is a team effort; every person has a role to play! It involves coordination from budgeting to communications. An important reality is that prioritizing accessibility often requires a larger budget to cover different needs, such as renting a ramp, booking an accessible bus, or welcoming personal support workers at no extra charge.

“Together, through a respectful exchange of information and a commitment to accessibility, we can transform park programs, presentations, events, and activities into inclusive social and physical spaces – where everyone gets to benefit and contribute.”

~ Kari Krogh, a disabled co-founder of EcoWisdom, a social enterprise that offers Accessible Nature Wellbeing Programs online and in-person as well as Nature and Forest Therapy Guide certification training with an emphasis on disability-environmental justice, accessibility, and intersectional inclusion.

Accessibility for All, Including Able-Bodied People 

Accessibility means enabling everyone to have access to everything. It means removing access barriers to people with cognitive conditions and hearing, visual, and mobility-related impairments. It also means removing access barriers for people who have non-visible disabilities, such as neurodiversity or chronic illnesses resulting in sensory sensitivities and energy limitations, temporary mobility limitations (a broken leg, for example), seniors who may experience intermittent pain, and people of all body types, backgrounds, religions, and gender identities.

Even participants who don’t have a particular barrier in accessing your events and activities can benefit from accessibility features. For instance, research shows that captions and subtitles improve understanding and memory retention for all viewers.

Making Your In-Person Events Accessible and Inclusive

Here’s a handy checklist to help you ensure your event is accessible and inclusive. This list isn’t exhaustive; additional considerations may be necessary based on your event’s specific needs.

Location and Venue

When selecting event venues, it is essential to consider a range of accessibility features:

  • benches or portable chairs
  • ramps
  • wide doors
  • elevators
  • accessible and inclusive washrooms (designed to accommodate wheelchair users; gender-neutral)
  • nearby parking and accessible public transportation options
  • plenty of space around tables and other gathering points
  • good acoustics, with limited background noise
  • good/adjustable lighting
  • well-ventilated rooms
  • quiet spaces for resting/reduced stimulation

For outdoor events, confirm that spaces are designed and maintained to allow individuals with limited mobility to navigate safely and comfortably. Avoid venues with uneven terrain or steep inclines, and opt for stable, firm, and slip-resistant surfaces such as pavement, crushed stone or compacted soil. Trails should be at least 36 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers.

Additionally, verify that service dogs are permitted in the venue (both indoor and outdoor) and arrangements are in place for a relief area.

Book a visit to conduct a site assessment of accessibility features before securing the location and venue. Consider inviting disabled individuals to visit your top pick venues and help assess the site to ensure it meets their needs.

Learn more on venue accessibility:


EcoWisdom Accessible Nature Wellbeing Program Participant, Vancouver, BC. Photo Credit: Britt Permien. Description: The image shows a wheelchair user on a park trail, with wildflowers in the background.

Event Layout and Setup

To make sure everyone can enjoy every aspect of your event, we recommend you to:

  • Verify that every aspect of the event (tables layout, activities, food and drinks) allows enough room for maneuvering and is easily reachable for participants using wheelchairs or other mobility aids,
  • Provide seating options (portable chairs with armrests) for individuals who may have difficulty standing for extended periods,
  • Designate quiet areas or rest zones for people who need a break from the noise and other form of stimulation, and options for more passive participation (i.e. reading materials, areas to craft),
  • For presentations or speeches, ensure that presenters and facilitators use microphones, speak clearly, and provide accessible presentation materials (refer to the section on content accessibility below),
  • Provide diverse food options to accommodate different dietary needs and preferences, such as vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, halal and kosher options, and clearly label ingredients and allergens at the event,
  • Make sure there are staff or volunteers available to assist with pouring drinks and serving food,
  • Take measures to protect immunocompromised attendees by offering masks, maintaining good ventilation, and promoting an environment where mask-wearing is encouraged and supported,
  • Provide stickers or identifiers for people to indicate how social they are feeling, such as red (no hugs, no photos, please let me start the conversation), yellow, or green (feeling very social),
  • Encourage participants to add their pronouns to their nametags,
  • Consider having/hiring one or several trained staff available to offer accessibility assistance if needed (e.g. communication and personal care).

Communication and Signage

Before the Event:

When promoting your event, ensure accessibility information is on the platform you’re using—webpage, FAQ, Eventbrite page, or Facebook event. It should cover various aspects of accessibility regarding the location, transportation, sensory experiences, and interactions one might expect (check our previous event webpage for a non-exhaustive list). It will help people determine if they can/want to participate and plan accordingly.

If possible, take a video or photos of the terrain and include a link on the event website so that people can decide whether they can comfortably participate. If possible, allow attendees to check out the site in advance.

Ensure that people with disabilities can bring a support person at no extra cost and that this information is clearly communicated when you launch your event.

You can also provide an email address for accessibility inquiries and add a dedicated question in the registration form so interested people can describe their access needs before the event. Some participants might have specific requests that you hadn’t considered, such as the need to accommodate respirators, for instance.

This approach can reduce stress for participants who have faced barriers in the past and encourage them to consider participating when they may have thought it wasn’t possible. It will also help everyone get ready for the big day. Failing to follow up on these needs can be harmful. It’s important to openly discuss what accommodations can be provided within the available budget, which may require a discussion via email or phone. 

During the Event:

Effective communication and clear signage are essential so all attendees can navigate different event venue areas, such as washrooms, reserved seating areas, the low-stimulation rest area and activity zones. Use clear fonts, large sizes, highly contrasting colours, simple language, universal symbols, and consistently strategic signage placement. If possible, provide accessible sign options, such as braille or tactile maps.

Programming and Activities

Make certain all your activities are safe and inclusive for everyone: 

  • Apply the same principles mentioned above to each activity,
  • Always be ready to offer assistance and accommodations as needed,
  • If an activity isn’t fully accessible, like a walk on a steep trail, make it optional and clearly communicate this. Provide an alternative activity for those who can’t participate.

Let’s discuss concrete examples of accessible and inclusive park activities.

Multisensory Art event or installation

Visual art is often prioritized over other mediums, but multisensory installations offer a more inclusive experience. The approach is to use various interactive elements to engage multiple senses, such as sound and touch.

For instance, the “Interconnection Audio Stories: Knowledge, Myths, and Legends” project offers an immersive visual AND audio experience of an existing mural in Paul Martel Park in Toronto. It invites people to stop and listen, engaging their senses beyond just vision.

The photo shows the empty park featuring the park sign, a large tree, birds, and the mural in the background.

Paul Martel Park in Toronto, 2021. Description: The photo shows the empty park featuring the park sign, a large tree, birds, and the mural in the background.

Another great example is a recent exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario showcasing the various contributions of women to the visual arts in Europe, which included multisensory experiences with scent and touch stations.

Planting / Stewardship event

Community gardens and stewardship events are very popular among park lovers. To make your garden accessible, use elevated beds and planters for wheelchair users or those unable to knee or bend, and place them near accessible paths (firm, levelled, and free of loose gravel). Have one or several trained staff members dedicated to supporting attendees.

Offer various ways to get involved for those who can’t physically remove invasive plants or participate in planting. They can participate in wildlife or plant inventory projects, site and plant assessments, communication and promotion, public education and nature interpretation whether it’s before, during, or after your event. 

Learn more: 


The photo shows wheelchair users sitting near a fire ring under a wooden structure.

EcoWisdom Accessible Nature Wellbeing Program Participants, Vancouver Island, BC. Photo Credit: Laurel Goodings. Description: The photo shows wheelchair users sitting near a fire ring under a wooden structure.

Making Your Online Events Accessible and Inclusive

Digital Platform and Content 

To enhance navigation and engagement with your content, prioritize platforms that support accessibility features like screen readers, keyboard navigation, and captioning options.

Enable closed captions or live transcripts for all audio and video content, and check that these features are synchronized to provide the best possible experience.

When creating presentation materials, including slide decks, videos, documents, and web pages, do it with accessibility in mind. Use clear fonts, high contrast, captions for video content, audio playback for PDF, and text description for images (text below the image and/or alt-text). 

Learn more on web content accessibility: 

Communication and Support

Just as with external events, it’s important to include an option in the registration form for participants to specify their accessibility requirements or include an option for them to reach out and share their accessibility needs. It helps identify and accommodate individual needs in advance. 

Provide technical support and assistance through multiple channels, including chat, email, and phone, so participants can easily access help if/when needed. Another good practice is to begin the presentation with tips on using the platform, the accessibility features and where to find additional support. This ensures that all participants know and can use the available resources effectively. When you are welcoming a disabled presenter, it can be very helpful to have a tech-check session in advance.

For online events lasting over an hour, we recommend you add one break to accommodate participants with personal care needs who may need time to rest, manage their energy levels, or move to manage chronic pain.

When presenting slides, you’ll describe the text displayed and provide more context and information. Please also provide detailed descriptions of the images, videos, or illustrations shown. It will take a few seconds but improve the experience of attendees who can’t see the images and videos correctly. 

Learn more:


“What I liked most was being together with everyone in the first space ever since my body began to change where I felt I could be totally myself without question or explanation.”

~ EcoWisdom Accessible Nature Wellbeing Program Participant, Vancouver



We want to acknowledge that we are not a disabled-led organization. The best practices shared here are rooted in our intention to make our events accessible, developed in consultation with disabled-led organizations such as Eco Wisdom. We are sharing this as a companion resource as part of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) commitments.