By Boardroom editors
Accessibility is a concept buzzing around the business events industry, but what do planners need to know when it comes to ensuring awareness at congresses? According to BestCities‘ latest research, universal accessibility is key to business growth, knowledge sharing, and increased competitiveness for destinations.
At the 57th ICCA Congress, held last month in Dubai, the research from BestCities Global Alliance, GainingEdge, and Rehabilitation International was released, highlighting some of the areas planners may not normally consider when looking at potential destinations and venues. Those areas include training for disability awareness and coming up with a standard operating procedure (SOP) for handling requests involving participants with disabilities.
According to the research, venues can ensure an equal experience for all attendees by instilling best practices, such as operational accessibility manuals highlighting work protocols and mandatory training sessions.
“We advocate that event organizers and service providers use a cross-sectional group of local people with disabilities in an advisory capacity to identify areas of need for improvement,” says Dr. Terry Howard, executive director, Alpha Iota Delta Decision Sciences Institute, who assisted with the research. Gregg Talley, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO, Talley Management Group Inc., recommends doing a site visit with someone in a wheelchair to see whether a venue is accessible for attendees with disabilities.
Some cities, such as Berlin, have universal accessibility built into their decision-making policies. Planners can book accessible hotels that have received the Reisen für Alle (“Tourism for All”) certification, and travelers can explore the city with help from travel aid app accessBerlin. Ljubljana, Slovenia, created a special advisory board of disabled and elderly people, giving them a voice in decision making. The city of Lyon, France, meanwhile, has developed digital tools for people with disabilities, in addition to making all of its city buses 100-percent accessible.
“These days, we have enough technology and vision to include everyone, and meeting space should be better thought through,” says Silvia Taurer, region manager Europe, RTC Events Management, who participated in BestCities’ research.