Planning accessible events

The Year of Accessible Tourism in Queensland is an opportunity to recognise the importance of accessible tourism experiences for all. Here are some resources and information to help plan an accessible and inclusive event for all participants.

Below is a visual audio toolkit developed by the Department of Tourism Innovation and Sport which provides a comprehensive review of the important things to consider when planning an inclusive outdoor event.

Additional information from the Department of Tourism and Sport Qld is available at

Accessible Outdoor Events

Creating accessible and inclusive events has many benefits for everyone involved. By creating accessible and inclusive events, we can create a more welcoming and enjoyable experience for all attendees and create a more diverse and inclusive community.

Aside from it just being the right thing to do, some of the specific benefits to events and event organisers are:

  1. Increased attendance and participation: By creating accessible and inclusive events, you can attract a wider audience and increase attendance and participation. This means that you can reach more people and create a more diverse and inclusive community and reach more potential customers.
  2. Improved customer satisfaction: When attendees feel that their needs and requirements have been considered, they are more likely to have a positive experience and be satisfied with the event. This can lead to repeat attendance and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
  3. Enhanced reputation and brand image: By creating accessible and inclusive events, you can demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion. This can enhance your reputation and brand image, which can be beneficial for future events and business opportunities. There is a growing number of successful events that have made significant strides in accessibility and inclusivity. The biggest one that we all know is The Paralympic Games: The Paralympic Games are a great example of an event that is accessible and inclusive. The games provide accommodations for athletes with disabilities, including accessible venues, adaptive equipment, and support staff. The games also promote diversity and inclusivity, highlighting the skills and talents of athletes with disabilities.
  4. The New York Fashion Week: The New York Fashion Week is an event that has made significant strides in accessibility and inclusivity in recent years. The event provides accommodations for attendees with disabilities, including accessible seating and sign language interpretation. The event has also featured models with disabilities on the runway, promoting diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry.
  5. More locally, the Abilityfest is a music festival that Dylan Alcott has established. The festival provides accommodations for attendees with disabilities, including accessible bars, viewing platforms, and sign language interpreters. The festival also provides sensory-friendly areas for individuals with autism and other sensory sensitivities.

Your event does not need to be large-scale though to warrant being inclusive. Inclusion happens everywhere. In our own workplaces, in our local communities…

Key considerations for Event Organisers

Event organisers must consider a variety of accommodations and accessibility needs for attendees with disabilities. By considering these key considerations, event organisers can ensure that their events are accessible and inclusive for all attendees.

Overview of key considerations that event organisers must give in relation to people with disabilities:

  1. Venue accessibility: The first consideration for event organisers is ensuring that the event venue is accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes ensuring that the venue has accessible parking, entrances, exits, and restrooms. Event organisers should also consider providing accommodations such as ramps, elevators, and assistive technology as needed.
  2. Communication accessibility: Event organisers should also consider communication accessibility for attendees with disabilities. This includes providing sign language interpreters, closed captioning, and assistive listening devices as needed. Event organisers should also ensure that event materials, such as programs and signage, are available in accessible formats, such as braille or large print.
  3. Seating accommodations: Event organisers should consider seating accommodations for attendees with disabilities. This includes providing accessible seating options, such as wheelchair spaces, companion seats, and transfer seats. Event organisers should also consider the proximity of seating to accessible entrances and exits, restrooms, and concessions.
  4. Accommodations for service animals: Event organisers should be familiar with laws and regulations related to service animals and ensure that attendees with disabilities who use service animals are accommodated appropriately. This may include providing relief areas and ensuring that service animals are allowed in all areas of the venue.
  5. Emergency preparedness: Event organisers should have an emergency preparedness plan that includes accommodations for attendees with disabilities. This may include having evacuation procedures for individuals with disabilities, providing evacuation chairs or other assistive devices, and ensuring that emergency communication is accessible to all attendees.
  6. Staff training: Event organisers should ensure that staff are trained to provide accommodations and assistance to attendees with disabilities. This includes understanding disability etiquette, aiding with seating and mobility, and being familiar with accommodations such as assistive technology and service animals.
  7. Where possible employ staff with a Disability at the event to provide equal opportunity and authenticity to your event and consult with people with Disabilities during the planning phase of each event on these and other accessibility and inclusion issues.

Accessible information can also increase independence for individuals with disabilities. When individuals can access information independently, they can make informed decisions and participate more fully in events and activities.

Best practices for creating accessible and inclusive events

Consult with individuals with disabilities: Consult with individuals with disabilities during the planning process to ensure that the event meets their needs. This can involve consulting with disability advocacy organisations or reaching out to individuals with disabilities directly.

  1. Provide accessible facilities: Ensure that the event space and facilities are accessible for individuals with disabilities, including wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, and accessible seating. Provide clear signage and wayfinding to guide attendees.
  2. Provide accessible information: Provide accessible information about the event, such as braille or large print materials, captioning videos and providing sign language interpretation, and ensuring that the event website and social media posts are accessible.
  3. Ensure sensory-friendliness: Ensure that the event is sensory-friendly by minimising loud noises and providing quiet spaces. Use lighting that is not too bright or flickering and provide comfortable seating.
  4. Train staff: Train staff on how to interact with individuals with disabilities, including how to help without being patronising or intrusive. Make sure staff know where accessible facilities are located and how to operate any assistive devices or equipment.
  5. Aid: Aid individuals with disabilities who need it, such as offering wheelchair assistance, guiding individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and providing assistance with hearing aids or other assistive devices.
  6. Encourage feedback: Encourage feedback from attendees with disabilities to identify areas for improvement and ensure that future events are even more accessible and inclusive.

Creating accessible and inclusive outdoor events can present unique challenges and considerations for event organisers. Here are some of the key challenges and considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Terrain and environment: Outdoor events can be held on a variety of terrains, including grass, sand, or gravel, which can make it difficult for individuals with mobility impairments to navigate. Event organisers should consider the terrain and provide accessible pathways, ramps, and seating areas to accommodate attendees with disabilities.
  2. Weather conditions: Outdoor events are subject to weather conditions, which can pose challenges for attendees with disabilities. For example, individuals with mobility impairments may have difficulty navigating through muddy or snowy conditions. Event organisers should consider the weather conditions and provide accommodations such as covered areas or heating lamps to ensure the comfort and safety of all attendees.
  3. Accessible parking and transportation: Outdoor events often require attendees to park in remote areas or walk long distances to reach the event. It is important to provide accessible parking options and transportation services to ensure that attendees with disabilities can access the event without difficulty.
  4. Communication and signage: Outdoor events can be noisy and crowded, making it difficult for individuals with hearing or visual impairments to navigate the event. Event organisers should provide clear signage, maps, and communication aids such as amplified sound systems or visual alerts to ensure that all attendees can navigate the event.
  5. Emergency preparedness: Outdoor events can present unique challenges in terms of emergency preparedness. Event organisers should develop emergency plans that consider the needs of attendees with disabilities, including accessible evacuation routes and plans for individuals with mobility or sensory impairments
  6. Accessibility of counters where food and beverage are purchased.
  7. Accessibility of stages and Audio-Visual Equipment – Lapel Microphone, Ramp to a Stage.

Tips for creating accessible pathways

  1. Width: Ensure that the pathways are wide enough to accommodate individuals who use mobility aids such as wheelchairs or walkers. The minimum recommended width is 1.5 meters, but wider pathways are preferable.
  2. Surface: The surface of the pathway should be smooth and firm to allow for easy navigation. Avoid using materials that can be difficult for individuals with mobility impairments, such as gravel, sand, or loose paving stones.
  3. Slope: Avoid steep slopes or changes in elevation on the pathway, as this can be difficult for individuals with mobility impairments to navigate. The recommended slope is no more than 1:20.
  4. Obstacles: Ensure that the pathway is free of obstacles such as debris, rocks, or low-hanging branches. Make sure that signage or any other features are placed at an appropriate height that will not interfere with someone's line of sight or access to the pathway.
  5. Maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain the pathways to ensure that they remain in good condition. Repair any cracks or uneven surfaces promptly and ensure that the pathway remains free of obstacles.
  6. Shelter: To ensure that the event is accessible to everyone, it is important to provide accessible shade and shelter options that can accommodate individuals with disabilities. This might include shaded seating areas, cooling stations, or designated quiet areas that are away from loud noise.


  1. Protection from sun and heat: Outdoor events often take place during hot weather, and exposure to excessive heat and sun can be particularly dangerous for individuals with disabilities. Providing shade and shelter can help prevent heat exhaustion, sunburn, and other heat-related health issues.
  2. Sensory sensitivities: Some individuals with disabilities may have sensory sensitivities, and exposure to direct sunlight or loud noise can be overwhelming. Providing shade and shelter can help create a calmer environment, reducing sensory overload and making it easier for individuals to participate in the event.
  3. Mobility impairments: Individuals with mobility impairments may need to rest or take breaks more frequently, and providing shade and shelter can offer a place for them to do so comfortably. Additionally, some individuals may use mobility aids such as wheelchairs or walkers, which can be difficult to navigate in direct sunlight or on uneven surfaces.
  4. Inclusion: By providing shade and shelter, event organisers can demonstrate their commitment to creating an inclusive event that welcomes all attendees, regardless of their abilities.
  5. To ensure that the event is accessible to everyone, it is important to provide accessible restrooms and handwashing facilities that are located throughout the event area and clearly marked.
  6. Outdoor events may have unique challenges when it comes to providing accessible restrooms and handwashing facilities, particularly if they are held in areas without access to running water or electricity. However, providing portable toilets that are wheelchair accessible and equipped with handwashing stations can help ensure that all attendees have access to the facilities they need.
  7. Also below are some providers of mobility equipment that event organisers can hire or purchase and hire out themselves.