Making your Outdoor Event Accessible
On Disabled Access Day, we’re excited to have lots of outdoor events taking place at venues such as Skylarks Nature Reserve, Moors Valley Country Park and Forest plus the Calvert Trust.
But when the outdoors is involved there is always the question of what Mother Nature will plan to do on the day, fingers crossed she will be kind but unfortunately she isn’t that predictable! So what’s your Plan B? What other things should you consider for an event outdoors when thinking about accessibility? Take a look at our top tips below to help you plan for the day and make sure that no matter what the weather your event is still accessible.
Expect the unexpected
No matter how much planning and preparation you put into an event, there will always be some things which are out of your control. This is especially true when it comes to outdoor events and the weather, so it’s always best to prepare for the worst!
There’s nothing worse than sitting in the rain, but for some people being exposed to rain, strong winds or intense heat can be a health risk, so make sure you have a plan for these scenarios. In case of rain, prepare a designated indoor area so that people can easily relocate and stay dry, make sure the space is accessible and well sign posted so if rain does strike, people know where to go. To avoid people getting too hot (it’s unlikely in March – but you never know!), ensure that your venue has plenty of shaded areas, perhaps put up a canopy, and ensure that people can access drinking water if you can.
In some situations, you might not be able to offer a Plan B, for example if you don’t have a visitor centre or other space that you could use. In this case keeping people up to date with weather and any paths or facilities that might be affected by bad weather through social media will help ensure people are informed before making a decision about whether to visit you. You can even update your Disabled Access Day event information to reflect any last minute changes that might happen.
Spending a penny
The Access Survey, that was conducted last year in conjunction with Euan’s Guide, found that 80% of people advised that having an accessible toilet at or nearby the venue affected whether or not they visited. While some outdoor activities and events might not have toilet facilities, knowing where your nearest one is might encourage more people to visit you on the day. So be sure to let people know on your website or marketing materials about the nearest accessible toilet.
If you frequently hold large outdoor events, consider getting a portable accessible toilet so that people won’t have too far to go.
Now you see me…
Outside it can be harder to spot who is a staff member and how is a member of the public as there are fewer natural boundaries like desks that make staff easily identifiable. So clear uniforms or badges will help ensure that it’s easy to spot who the staff are. Although they might not be fashionable high visibility jackets will make sure they don’t get missed!
Good customer service can go a long way, in fact our Access Survey revealed that staff helpfulness and friendliness was important and had an impact on whether people would visit a venue for 70% of respondents. So getting it right is key!
To help ensure that you provide the best customer service possible, make sure that your staff are clued up about the accessible services and facilities which your venue provides. For more tips, have a read of our blog on the importance of good customer service.
Know the way
If you don’t have many staff available, clear signage will help ensure people know where to go and don’t get lost. Make sure that you clearly signpost entrances, exits, wheelchair accessible pathways and accessible toilets and ensure the signs can be seen from different heights. Another thing you might want to consider producing is a venue map to help visitors find their way around and clearly marking accessible routes and facilities.
If you’re producing new signage then make sure you take a look at our alternative formats blog which will give you guidance and top tips on fonts and other formats you might want to consider.
Jazz up your park
Planning an outdoor event is a great excuse to invest in some new accessible facilities. This doesn’t have to require a large expense – small touches can have a huge impact on the visitor experience. For example, how about providing a water bowl for assistance dogs to drink from? This means that people can enjoy your event for longer, without worrying about their canine companion getting dehydrated, especially on those hot days! Order one through Euan’s Guide today.
Outdoor events can require a lot of walking about, which some people will find challenging. Make sure that you have enough seating, so that people are able to take a break if they’re feeling tired. Wheelchair accessible picnic benches are great, consider adding one to your outside eating area!
Clear the paths…
There are lots of great places out there that have invested in creating accessible paths, once they’re in place it’s important to keep them clear of overgrown plants and trees, fallen branches and debris. Make sure there is a plan in place to ensure the ongoing maintenance of the paths so everyone can get the best use out of them.
A small pothole or a fallen branch blocking part of the path might not be a big issue for some but for others it could make the difference between an enjoyable time out and a long trip back in the same direction.
Ask for feedback!
Disabled Access Day is the perfect day to ask people for feedback about what you’re doing well and what you could do better. You might want to consider having a short visitor survey on the day to get feedback or you could encourage people to leave reviews on Euan’s Guide. All feedback is valuable and will help to ensure that you deliver a great experience for all of your customers.