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Community Events: Fun for Everyone When it's Time to Gather Again

It was 30 years ago that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became a law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. With advance planning, temporary events like street festivals, crafts fairs, and home shows can encourage equal participation by all people.

Participation means finding and using accessible parking, obtaining information and directions on site, moving around the grounds, experiencing and enjoying activities, purchasing items at concessions, using bathrooms, water fountains, shelters and first aid stations, and other common amenities.

Society's Assets staff offer technical assistance and sometimes equipment resources to remove barriers to participation. Here are some topics for event organizers to consider.

  • Tables, chairs, racks or other furniture can be arranged to provide clear paths for people using mobility devices.
  • People who are Deaf or hard of hearing may need written materials, captioned media, assistive listening devices, or sign language interpreter services.
  • People who are blind or have low vision may need materials in large print, information read aloud, or guidance to help locate facilities or activities.
  • Use a portable ramp when curb cuts don't exist.
  • Eliminate a turnstile at the entrance or provide an alternative accessible path.
  • View an individual in terms of the whole person and not just the disability. For example, an individual using a wheelchair may not be able to use a trampoline, but there still must be an accessible route to the location so the individual may accompany friends or supervise children.
  • Volunteers or staff at the event should remember that some people need extra time to move, speak, understand, or participate.

If you need specific information about planning an event, contact Society's Assets at 800-378-9128. Another resource is the Great Lakes ADA Center at 312-413-1407. Or visit www.adagreatlakes.org