Planning Accessible Events
The purpose of this section is to assist event planners in understanding the College's obligation and commitment to take into account the needs of individuals with disabilities in connection with events sponsored by the College. Ithaca College is committed to facilitating the participation of people with disabilities in all of its programs, including conferences, meetings, lectures and other events. The College must also ensure that it fulfills a number of legal obligations with respect to these events.
What follows are policies, guidelines and suggestions about how to make events accessible and accommodating to people with disabilities. This document is not an exhaustive catalog of suggestions or obligations, although the absolute minimum requirements are described.
The College's obligation to consider the needs of participants extends to any public event sponsored by the College, whether held on or off campus and whether or not members of the public are invited to attend. In very few circumstances, such as a private social function or an employees-only meeting, where you know exactly who will attend and that no accommodations will be required, it may not be necessary to plan for the needs of participants with disabilities.
In most situations, you will have to plan for the possibility that some one will need accommodation. For example, services for people with disabilities must be considered in connection with a week-long arts festival, a speech by a visiting scholar or celebrity, or a conference sponsored at one of the schools. As the event planner, it is your responsibility to plan for and provide the required services for participants with disabilities at any event sponsored by the College or members of the College community. We have provided an accessibility checklist for event planners.
There are also obligations that extend to events that are sponsored by a person or organization outside of the College but are held in Ithaca College facilities. If you are involved in making Ithaca College facilities available to outside groups, you should make sure to discuss accessibility and accommodation obligations with the organization using the space. The arrangements should clearly specify which party is responsible for these obligations at the event.
What Are the General Obligations?
In general, you must try to ensure that people with disabilities are able to attend and participate in your event. There is no one correct way to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Where outright access and full accommodation cannot be accomplished, you will need to explore alternatives for serving people with disabilities. Given the College's diverse resources, this can be accomplished in almost all cases with a little expense, although prior planning will be required.
Responding to Requests for Accommodation
You are encouraged to communicate as much and as early as possible with participants and event presenters prior to the event. Individuals with disabilities include those with mobility and sensory impairments (e.g. individuals who use wheelchairs or those with hearing or vision impairments), and "hidden" disabilities (e.g. those with learning disabilities, chronic illnesses). When questions concerning accommodations and particular requests come up, you will want to respond as soon as possible. However, certain situations may require several communications between the event planner and the person requesting the accommodation. It is possible that you may encounter difficulties providing a requested accommodation or you may be uncertain if the particular request must be met.
You are required to consult with the Office of Equal Opportunity Compliance (607-274-3909) before denying any accommodation request.