Who: Elizabeth Aube-VanPatten, PhD-C, CHE, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sports, Entertainment, Event-Management at Johnson & Wales University. She’s also an online instructor.
Agree or Disagree with Article: Agree
Hospitality professionals know what it takes to make a great meeting: a motivating speaker, proper technology, food and beverage, and the ever-important Wi-Fi area for meeting attendees. However, hospitality professionals need to do more to ensure inclusivity when it comes to welcoming attendees with accessibility issues. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 40 million Americans living with a disability. These disabilities can range from physical to auditory to visual impairments. According to a statistic highlighted in a recent Skift article, about 21 percent of people with disabilities are active members of the workforce—making it necessary for planners and organizers to consider them and their well-being when putting together an event.
For the most part, the event planning professionals have done a great job of ensuring individuals with mobility issues are accommodated during events. Frequently, ramps are set up and wheelchair-accessible tables and bathrooms have become the norm. However, for those attendees without the more obvious impairment, attending meetings can be somewhat of a struggle. This article mentions the new app, “Click and Go Wayfinding,” a revolutionary product that allows for tactile and low vision maps and virtual kiosks. If venues partnered more with Click and Go, they would most certainly see an increase in attendance from individuals a venue may not have been so accommodating to in years past.
In addition, meeting planners need to figure out a way for all attendees to attend speaker presentations. New technologies have been developed, such as automated image closed captioning technology, to ensure that no matter the meeting, everyone can be included.
Preparing resources for attendees
Finally, meeting professionals should be well-versed in what type of services are provided throughout the local area during their event. Organizers should gather information on local emergency doctors, hospital facilities, wheelchair repair resources, physiotherapists, and veterinarians (for service animals). Ensuring that everyone can take part in an industry event will only continue to further the growth and development of the meetings industry.
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