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Accessible & Inclusive Events Resource Guide

This document was created by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) to provide a helpful resource for planning accessible and inclusive events and meetings on the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus. This resource guide compiles existing tools and information specific to campus venues as well as helpful tips about designing accessible and inclusive events. We reached out to a number of campus partners and accessibility advocates to ask for tips, information, resources, and feedback. For a brief, printable overview of the information on this page, please see the checklist below.

We recognize that everyone can benefit from varying levels of accommodations to better, and more fully engage in events and meetings on campus and remotely. This document includes resources and information that can benefit everybody, including people with disabilities.

This Resource Guide is a working document; as relevant information and resources are continually updated, please share any additional feedback, changes, and/or suggestions. In March 2020, much of the U-M campus community began working remotely in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office (ECRT) developed two webpages providing comprehensive information for planning virtual meetings and events:

  • Video Conferencing and Digital Accessibility at the University of Michigan |
    This resource discusses accessibility status and features in the various videoconferencing platforms to which U-M community members have access, along with some advice and best practices for video conferencing generally.
  • Remote Events Accessibility at the University of Michigan | This resource provides helpful information for planning accessible and inclusive remote events at the University of Michigan. This resource can be used to supplement sections 1 (Event scheduling), 3 (If there’s a virtual component), and 4 (Tools to make materials accessible) of this page (Accessible & Inclusive Events Resource Guide).
    • **Please note: The inclusion of specific vendors and service providers in this resource guide are for informational purposes only and does not represent an endorsement by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. It is up to the discretion of the event/meeting organizer to decide which resources best meet the needs of their participants and are in compliance with University vendor contracts.**

We acknowledge that accessibility work and advocacy has been and is being done by various units and groups. Where possible, we include the sources for links and information.

This Resource Guide builds on the Ten Tips for Inclusive Meetings list. We used some of the categories and/or exact explanations for some categories, and we expand on many points for others. (See the document for a list of committee members and authors.) In this resource guide, we offer information for event scheduling, events with in person components, events with virtual components, and accessible materials.

We firmly believe in the saying, “Nothing about us, without us.” Thank you to everyone who spent their time and energy to provide information and guidance on this Resource Guide.

For questions or suggestions, please email AccessibleEvents@umich.edu.


Table of Content

  1. Event scheduling
  2. If there’s an in-person component
    • Selecting an Event Space
    • Transportation, Navigation, and Parking
    • Chart of common event spaces
    • Restrooms
    • Food and Drink
    • Personal Assistance
    • Safety
    • Microphones
  3. If there’s a virtual component
    • Off-site/Remote Participation
  4. Tools to make events accessible
    • Accessible Marketing & Materials
    • Access and Accommodation Statement
    • Accessible and Inclusive Events Checklist
    • American Sign Language (ASL) & Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) & Event Captioning
    • Additional Resources

1. Event scheduling

When scheduling events, avoid conflicts with major cultural and religious holidays by consulting the Office of the Provost holidays calendar. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list, so please check with your participants.

Events that are held between 10-3 p.m. allow caregivers and people with chronic illnesses more flexibility to attend. However, these times will not always work with students or staff’s schedules, so it’s typically advised to either check with your audience or provide a recording of events to ensure the broadest level of accessibility.

2. If there’s an in-person component

Lactation and/or Reflection Rooms

Acknowledging the locations of the nearest lactation and/or reflection rooms can build a more inclusive event/meeting environment.


Ensure the availability of accessible, single-stall restrooms, and gender-inclusive restrooms.

Gender-Inclusive Restrooms

A map of gender-inclusive bathrooms across U-M and a list of gender-inclusive bathrooms has been provided by The Spectrum Center. Please note this list is updated on a rolling basis as folks reach out with new additions or corrections. Unfortunately, due to limited staff capacity, they do not go out on campus to check the restrooms but do add to the list periodically throughout the year. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact SpectrumCenter@umich.edu.

Accessible Restrooms

A list of accessible bathrooms across U-M has been provided by The Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). This list is not up to date, so if there is information on this list that is incorrect, please contact the SSD Office at ssdoffice@umich.edu.

General Considerations

When selecting an event venue, it is recommended to consult with building facility managers, Information and Technology Services (ITS), and Audiovisual (AV) teams to see if a space meets your event needs before booking the event. If possible, visit/tour the space prior to the event/meeting. Consider the following when deciding on a space:

  • Lighting
  • Location, elevator/stairs access, ramp access, stage access
  • Wheelchair accessible space, automatic door openers
  • Movable chair space and/or chairs without arms to provide more flexible seating arrangements
  • Thin walls can be distracting in terms of sound clarity in the room
  • Avoid spaces with ongoing construction, new carpeting, newly painted walls, and recently used chemicals for smell-sensitivity

Provide transportation information that includes exact street addresses, distances and obstacles, directions (for walking, driving, and public transportation), and information on accessible parking (including parking costs) and entrances. Also provide images of the building and contact information of the event organizers.

Example of a transportation information statement: “The Palmer Parking Structure is the closest public parking structure (two blocks away); it is free for U-M employees with a blue pass and $1.70 per hour for anyone else. It includes parking spots for individuals with disabilities” Source

The table below provides information about restrooms, elevator & stair access, lactation rooms, reflection rooms/space, parking, ramp access, and seating for specific event spaces. Specifically, it includes this information forU-M Central Campus’s commonly used event spaces, such as Hill Auditorium and Michigan League. In addition, each location is hyperlinked to their event planning or accessibility information. Please note that this is NOT a complete list of accommodations or event spaces.

View Chart of Common Event Spaces

The following is a list of food and drink considerations. Please note that this is not a complete list, and you should be ready to make additional changes based on accommodation requests.

  • Consider the time of the event/meeting.
  • Provide a range of food that includes: vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, healthy, lactose-free and Kosher/Halal options. Ensure that these options and ingredients are clearly labeled in large print and either individually packaged or offered in a way that avoids cross-contamination.
  • Serve non-alcoholic beverages in a similar style and amount as alcoholic drinks.
  • Serve non-caffeinated beverages in a similar style and amount as caffeinated drinks.
  • Provide water and make plastic straws available, especially for hot beverages.
  • Have options to hold beverages other than glass or ceramic.
  • Avoid common food allergens (especially peanuts) in spaces, and list any ingredients or possible factory exposure in large print on packages.
  • During potlucks, work with guests to ensure the same level of transparency is met as you would have with vendors.
Kosher/Halal Resources

Check with attendees, as sometimes a vegetarian meal is acceptable:

  • Hillel Cafe provides Kosher sandwiches, wraps, salads, and bagel boxes to U-Go’s at the Michigan Union and League and Bert’s Cafe at the Undergrad Library. For kosher catering, please contact Hillel at 734-769-0500.
  • University of Michigan Museum of Arts (UMMA) uses two Kosher caterers: Chef Cari Kosher Catering, 248-770-6521 and Jewel Kosher Catering, 248-968-1200
  • Chabad of Ann Arbor also provides Kosher/Halal resources.
  • Grocery stores that carry Kosher meats and other products: Busch’s, 2240 S Main St, Ann Arbor, 734-998-2666; Kroger, 3615 Washtenaw, Ann Arbor, 734-677-2370; Trader Joe’s, 2398 East Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor, 734-975-2455.


If requested, designate staff who can offer individual assistance (with navigation, food, etc.). Identify them with plain, large print name tags and encourage them to verbally offer help.

Ensure that there are emergency plans that include locations of exits, a protocol for people with limited mobility and other disabilities, and the nearest area of rescue assistance. For planning emergency protocols, please contact the Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) at 734-763-1131.

  • At the beginning and throughout the event, reinforce the need for everyone to use a microphone, even if they think they do not need it.
  • Avoid asking participants if they can hear you without using the mic.
  • Ensure there are plenty of microphones and/or lapel mics for speakers as well as for the Q&A, if that is part of the program. This is helpful not just for people at the event, but for captioners and other remote participants. If someone asks a question without a microphone, the person with a microphone should repeat the question before answering.
  • If someone asks a question without a microphone, the person with a microphone should repeat the question before answering.Hold the microphone close to your mouth and speak clearly and slowly. Consider what types of microphones would be best for your participants (e.g., handheld, standing, wireless, lapel, podium).
  • For meetings where one microphone is being shared for questions and comments, or during larger events when the audience is asking questions, ensure that someone is designated to move the microphone around the room.

Suggested microphone: Snowball microphone for small to medium size meetings. This plugs into the laptop by USB and picks up sound really well. Source

3. If there’s a virtual component

The Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office (ECRT) developed two webpages with comprehensive information for planning virtual meetings and events (mentioned earlier in the purpose and background section of this guide): Video Conferencing and Digital Accessibility at the University of Michigan and Remote Events Accessibility at the University of Michigan.

Consider how off-site participants can be seen, heard, and/or otherwise participate during the event. Consult with building facility managers, Information and Technology Services (ITS), and Audiovisual (AV) teams to check if the space has off-site or remote participation resources. Send agendas, presentations, and handouts before and after the event/meeting.

Some other considerations for hybrid events are as follows:

  • Whenever anyone speaks, they should say their name so that people who are participating remotely can follow along with the conversation, including the event captioner (if applicable).
  • Include opportunities in the agenda to solicit or respond to comments/questions from remote participants.
  • Avoid using whiteboards or large poster paper to write notes. Consider using a Google doc to take notes and share with off-site participants
  • U-M Resources: U-M Live Event Stream and U-M LSA post-event recording.
  • Video Access: A good quality webcam is at eye-level. It should not be mounted or located in a high mount or random corner. Do not rely on webcam microphones for larger meetings/events. Zoom and Google Hangout are common options. Both options have some accessibility features, but Zoom is more preferred. BlueJeans has incompatibility problems with assistive technologies, especially screen readers. Source
  • Phone Access: Test the phone before the meeting/event and consider getting a microphone to make sure everyone can be heard clearly by remote participants. A common mistake is using a single person’s laptop microphone for a hybrid meeting, instead of a speaker/conference phone or external microphone. Consider the location and acoustics of the phone, including the microphone. Make sure laptops are not blocking the speaker/conference phone. Source

4. Tools to make events accessible

When creating marketing and materials, pay attention to readability and visibility so participants can follow along with the content and find the information easily. This can increase participation and make the event more inclusive. Considering the following when planning your event:

  • Event promotion. Include information about proactive measures in all event advertising and invite participants to identify accommodation needs, including food allergies and chemical sensitivities, before the event via email or phone. Promote and advertise using a variety of media: email (including text format), social media, website, posters, flyers, etc.
  • Handouts/Presentations/Infographics. Consider the following:
    • Use accessible font sizes and styles. Make sure the body text is at least 14pt. Avoid font styles that are hard to read such as cursive. Avoid using images of text.
    • Use good color contrast. Don’t rely on color to convey meaning: Use patterns or other status indicators such as text or textures for charts or graphs.
    • Use markup to create a hierarchy such as Title, Header 1, Header 2, etc. and use headers on tables. This facilitates navigation for screen readers and provides visual cues for sighted users.
    • Strive for simplicity and good readability. Write in plain language: if you are using acronyms- make sure to write out the meaning of each letter, explain jargon or complex terms that people might not be familiar with, have summaries of texts, and be concise.
    • Use built-in accessibility checkers and request user feedback.
    • Make materials available before and after the event.

(For more information and other resources on accessible materials, please see the Improving Accessibility of Word and Powerpoint Files presentation, and visit Your Role: Content Creators & Presenters.)

  • Nametags. There are multiple ways to be inclusive through the use of name tags such as including pronouns and color communication badges (where participants can indicate their communication preferences through different colors). Note: blind or deaf participants should have the option to indicate so on their nametag.
  • Signage. Provide multiple signs from multiple directions and entrances.
  • Reminders. Before meeting/event, send multiple reminders with the time and date of the event, a description of the layout of the room, parking instructions, and available bathrooms. Attach agenda/materials and accommodation processes.
  • Participation. Never force/pressure audience members or attendees to participate in an activity. In any cases where this is necessary, clearly mention this in RSVP forms and/or invites and give as much detail as possible.

Access and accommodation statements should be included in RSVP forms, emails, calendar invites and other marketing materials.

Access Statement

An access statement informs participants of accessible resources available for the event. This includes: address, parking information, points of entry, elevator and ramp locations, restroom types and locations, availability of CART/ASL services, if the event is scent-free, and the other topics highlighted in this guide.

  • Example: Accessibility for Angell Hall: Accessible entrance through adjacent buildings, or the North-West corner ground-floor entrance of Angell Hall. From the North-West entrance, the elevators are down the hall on the left and right sides. The event is on the third floor in room 3222. Men’s and women’s restrooms are located on the third floor near the elevators. A gender-inclusive restroom is located on the fifth floor around the corner from the elevator. Communication access realtime translation (CART) is provided for this event. Source

Accommodations Statement

An accommodation statement provides a space for participants to let the event planner know what resources they need to fully participate. Just as important as allowing people to make requests, is following up with requestors so that they know if and how their requests will be honored.

  • To create an accommodation statement:
    1. State commitment to accessibility and willingness to make accommodations
    2. Describe the event so individuals can assess their needs
    3. Invite people to contact organizer or team if they anticipate that accommodations will be needed. Source
      • Example of (3): “Please let us know how we can ensure that this event is inclusive to you. What accommodations or access needs can we help facilitate?” Source
  • Note to event/meeting planners: In anticipation of a potential request for services such as ASL interpreting or CART/event captioning, it is advised to check the availability of these services well in advance of publicizing your event.

This checklist is a summary of the information on this webpage, and includes some links to external resources. This list is meant to be a starting point in the event planning process.

Contact: Accessible and Inclusive Events team, AccessibleEvents@umich.edu

View the Accessible and Inclusive Events Checklist

Please note that providing just one of the following three resources–American Sign Language (ASL), Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), and Event Captioning–may not meet the needs of all attendees, and the meeting/event organizers should be prepared to field requests accordingly.

Because of the current ASL interpreter shortage, it’s typically recommended to provide automated captions for small events (around 20 people or less), CART for bigger events (20+ people) with a known invitation list, and ASL and CART for events that are university wide or open to anyone (or have the potential to have more than 100 people). However, ASL and CART should always be provided upon request

ECRT developed two webpages with comprehensive information for planning virtual meetings and events: Video Conferencing and Digital Accessibility at the University of Michigan and Remote Events Accessibility at the University of Michigan.

This list of ASL interpreter and/or CART Resources Source is regularly updated and can be used to help find providers.

  • Event hosts are responsible for providing accommodations, and covering the cost of ASL or CART. Event hosts may reach out to one of the following to request funding support for event accessibility:
    • LSA (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts) employees who are organizing events which meet one of the required criteria (scroll down to “Funding for Event Accessibility Services”) may request funding for accessibility services (such as CART, ASL, assistive listening systems, etc.) by emailing the Disability Navigators (LSA.Disability.Navigators@umich.edu).
    • Otherwise, event hosts request funding for ASL or CART by emailing ECRT at ecrtoffice@umich.edu or by filling out a request form. Note that ECRT has a limited fund

American Sign Language (ASL)

ASL interpreters provide important access to deaf or hard of hearing participants who rely on ASL. Please contact ASL providers with your event information to request a price quote for their services.

You should work with your agency or your contractor to set up ASL for events.

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART)

CART provides a full text/transcription of the event in real-time for viewers. For more details on what CART is, visit What is real-time captioning? Please contact CART providers with your event information to request a price quote for their services.

  • A CART operator does not necessarily need to be on site to provide these services. If a room is already set up with the technology, it is cheaper to have remote captioning/CART if (1) the captioner can access audio from the event and (2) there is a CART screen at the event.
  • View a comparison of live captioning service capabilities with the Live Captioning Matrix.

Zoom and Google Hangout are common options. Both options have some accessibility features, but Zoom is preferred.

Event Captioning

This service is for live-streamed videos, where “a trained operator provides a live transcript of an event in such a way that that transcript either overlaps or interfaces with a video or webinar interface. The primary difference between a CART provider and a captioning provider is that the captioning provider has the skills and knowledge to work with a variety of video display or streaming data formats.” (What is real-time captioning?). Please contact event captioning providers with your event information to request a price quote for their services.

  • Event captioning requires captioning boards, encoders, and expensive software. If a room is already set up with the technology, it is cheaper to have remote captioning/CART if they can access audio.
  • Estimate includes event time, set up time on the day of the event (which may take as long as 2 hours), as well as prep time to review event agenda, PPT, potential content/phrases/names/acronyms, additional equipment/software that may be needed (e.g., captioning on live stream); also to watch previous recordings of the speaker(s) to anticipate cadence, speech patterns. For this reason, repeated events/meetings get easier; one-time events are more difficult.
  • Additional fee to have transcript of captioning which is edited by reviewing the audio of the event.
  • Easiest if event captioning services can be provided remotely as long as IT staff on the event side can send captioner the audio and set up a captioning display with encoder.
  • Prior to the event, for both services, provide as much information about the event as soon as possible beforehand (see first bullet above). Source
Google Slides

Google Slides has free built in live captioning, which is ~89% accurate, and the more the speaker talks, the more the AI catches what you are trying to say. You can change the font size and placement of captioning. It use your computer/laptop microphone.

  • Feedback: The Michigan League has different microphones so the captioning might be harder to pick up. This is not an alternative substitute for CART. Google has a bias towards deep male voices & Midwestern accents.

Mapping Disability Inclusion Knowledge Community

Mapping Disability Inclusion is a Knowledge Community sponsored by U-M’s National Center for Institutional Diversity that aims to document, connect, and publicize the networks of scholars, practitioners, and advocates working on disability inclusion at the University of Michigan.

Contact: Stephanie Rosen, ssrosen@umich.edu

Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office (ECRT)

Provides guidance, support and delivery of programming, services and educational initiatives to University faculty, staff, and students to support diversity, inclusiveness, equal access, equitable treatment, cultural understanding and the prevention of prohibited discrimination and harassment.

Contact: ecrtoffice@umich.edu, 734-763-0235

Services for Students with Disabilities

The mission of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities is to support the University’s commitment to equity and diversity by providing support services and academic accommodations to students with disabilities. We share information, promote awareness of disability issues, and provide support of a decentralized system of access for students within the University community.

Contact: ssdoffice@umich.edu, 734-763-3000

Spectrum Center’s Event Navigation/Wayfinding Documents

The Spectrum Center have created template documents to help. These documents can help people navigate events, including finding parking, getting allergen and trigger warnings, and more.

Contact: Lorant Peeler, plorant@umich.edu

U-M Council for Disability Concerns

The University of Michigan Council for Disability Concerns works towards creating a community that respects disability, honors individual needs, and makes everything accessible.

Contact: CfDC-advisory@umich.edu

U-M Information and Technology Services

Information and Technology Services provides technology and communications services in support of UM-Ann Arbor’s academic and research needs. ITS also manages the administrative computing systems and executes the IT security strategy for the Ann Arbor campus, Michigan Medicine, and the two regional campuses (Flint and Dearborn).

Contact: 4HELP@umich.edu, 734-764-4357

U-M Library Accessibility

Information on accessing resources, services, and spaces through the University of Michigan Library, including accommodations for individuals whose disabilities prevent them from using Library materials in their original format.

Contact: Library Accessibility, lib.accessibility@umich.edu

U-M Library Disability Resource Guide

Provides resources on the topic of disability. Not only does the guide offers resources specific to the University of Michigan, but it also includes external links to other sites such as Disability.gov and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Contact: Anna Schnitzer, schnitzr@umich.edu

  1. RSVP emails for the Disability Culture Panel on July 22, 2019, organized by Ashley Wiseman, Associate Director, Global Scholars Program, and Ashley Bates, Program Manager, Zell Visiting Writers Series.
  2. Kosher/Halal Barbara Smith, Senior Executive Assistant for Dean Thomas A. Finholt, U-M School of Information. Contact: bjosmith@umich.edu.
  3. Marissa Taylor, Program Manager, CEO. Contact: mnrivas@umich.edu
  4. Jane Berliss-Vincent, Assistive Technology Manager, ITS, jbvincen@umich.edu.
  5. Todd Austin, Instructional Technologist, Videoconferencing Lead, LSA. Contact: laustin@umich.edu. Jim Pyke, Classroom Services Supervisor & Special Events Scheduling. LSA, jimpyke@umich.edu. Sonia Raheja, Disability Program Manager, ODEI. Contact: soniary@umich.edu
  6. Happening @ U-M for The University of Michigan Initiative on Disability Studies (UMInDS) Welcomes: Lauren Obermark/ Interdependent Pedagogies: Rethinking Access and Disability in Graduate Education on October 28, 2019 organized by Melanie Yergeau, Associate Professor, LSA English Language and Literature.
  7. Stephanie Rosen, Accessibility Specialist, Universities Library & Dilip Das, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Office of the Provost.
  8. RSVP Google Form for the Disability Culture Panel on July 22, 2019, organized by Ashley Wiseman, Associate Director, Global Scholars Program and Ashley Bates, Program Manager, Zell Visiting Writers Series.
  9. Dana Brown, Senior Assistant to the Director, National Center for Institutional Diversity. Contact: browndn@umich.edu.
  10. Dana Brown, Senior Assistant to the Director, National Center for Institutional Diversity. Contact: browndn@umich.edu.
  11. Sue Dear Dembrowski of ScreenLine LLC, a company that offers real time captioning; Contact: Leticia Fox, lettyfox@wowway.com, 517-627-2500.

Page last updated on May 1, 2023