One of the barriers to ICT accessibility and services is the failure to ensure that meetings and conferences are accessible. Although this toolkit cannot specify the actual language for all policies of concern to the policy maker, it can point to best practices. For example, an excellent guide for developing accessible meeting policies is the Guide to Planning Inclusive Meetings and Conferences, by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
For conferences or meetings where event participants are required to register, one convenient way to anticipate the accessibility needs of attendees is to request this information from attendees in advance on the registration form. This best practice enables conference hosts to manage the deployment of accessible information and services. It also requires the meeting or conference organizers to have a process in place for responding to reasonable accommodation requests for access to the event. By including this request for disability reasonable accommodations on the event registration form, event participants with disabilities have a venue for disclosing their needs for access to the event.
In the alternative, if a meeting or conference registration form is not being utilized for a meeting, then it is important to include a statement in the meeting notice that provides contact information for requesting a reasonable accommodation.
To be clear, the reference to “reasonable accommodation” does not refer to the provision of housing or overnight lodging for a meeting or conference. “Reasonable accommodation” is a cornerstone of the Convention and failure to provide it can amount to discrimination on the basis of disability. Known as the duty to accommodate, “reasonable accommodation” enables persons with disabilities to enjoy their rights and freedoms on an equal basis with others. In particular, Article 2 of the Convention defines “reasonable accommodation” as “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden.”
After determining that the conference venue and local transportation is accessible to persons who use wheelchairs, here is an example of one way to address conference accessibility on the registration form:
Disability Reasonable Accommodations
Please select the accommodation needed in order to participate:
_ Sign Language Interpreter
_ Real Time Captioning or CART
_ Neckloop Jack on Translation Listening System
_ Assistive Listening System
_ Braille Documents
_ Print documents in Large Font (18 point font)
_ Documents on CD
_ Cyber Café Terminal with Screenreading Software
_ An assistant will be accompanying me