Inclusivity in Modern Event Planning:

Thursday, September 28th, 2023

Making it a Conscious Standard Practice

In an age characterised by unparalleled global connectivity, events serve as a bridge, drawing cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives together. More than ever before, the term “inclusivity” has become pivotal in the world of event planning. But why has it emerged so vital, and how can one weave inclusivity seamlessly into an event?

Inclusivity in event planning isn’t just a buzzword; it’s an essential component of successful, modern events that aim to educate, inspire, and connect people. Here’s why it matters and how you can ensure your events and suppliers are inclusive.

Reflecting the World We Live In

In today’s world, inclusive events stand as a beacon of modern society. Such events aim to ensure that each attendee, feels a sense of representation and, more importantly, belonging. This approach doesn’t merely make for a ‘feel-good’ experience; it’s strategic. A diverse event is likely to draw a broader audience, thereby enhancing the reach and impact of the event. Moreover, by celebrating diversity, events can act as microcosms of the world, fostering a sense of global unity.

Accessibility: The Cornerstone of Inclusivity

Any conversation about inclusivity is incomplete without addressing accessibility. While inclusivity revolves around representation and participation, accessibility ensures that everyone can participate.

It caters to attendees with disabilities, ensuring they aren’t merely part of the audience but can engage wholly in the experience. Features like wheelchair ramps, sign language interpreters, varied dietary menus, and even specific lighting adjustments are instrumental. A simple addition like a quiet room can be crucial for attendees who may need a moment of calm.

Expanding Perspectives

By ensuring diverse representation in speakers, panellists, and content, we open the dialogue to a myriad of viewpoints.

Enhancing Accessibility

Inclusivity also relates to ensuring events are accessible to everyone. This includes people with disabilities, those with dietary restrictions, and individuals from varied cultural backgrounds.

Accessibility can range from wheelchair ramps and sign language interpreters to offering a diverse food menu that considers various dietary requirements. A quiet room or space, for quiet calm to consideration with your events special effect lighting.


To understand the importance of accessibility in the event industry, you don’t need to look much further than the “Ramp It Up” campaign.  Launched 5 months ago, its support is growing as it brings awareness to the event industry. We spoke to Sean Brierley, Managing Director of emap, who has passionately led this non-profit initiative, emphasising the necessity of making accessibility a given, not a luxury.

Continuous learning

Drawing from his two decades in the events industry and witnessing an accessibility incident last year, Sean identified the chasm between mere accessibility provisions and genuine inclusivity. His observations were not theoretical. At a recent event, when given a choice between an accessibility ramp and stairs, an overwhelming majority collecting their awards, opted for the red-carpet ramp. This simple observation underscored a profound truth: when inclusivity is integrated naturally into an event, everyone benefits.

Being Inclusive is not just a tick box exercise

There is still a great gap between ticking accessibility boxes and genuinely being inclusive. Sean highlighted that many venues charge exorbitantly for accessibility ramps, turning a necessity into a revenue stream. Sean is not alone in believing there should be an industry standard practice in place now, to ensure accessibility isn’t an afterthought, or a revenue stream.

The Campaign for Inclusivity

The Ramp It Up! Campaign also touches on the importance of representation in the events industry and the broader business world. Throughout our chat, we covered other aspects of accessibility, like the experience of women in the workforce and the challenges they face.


For a successful businessman, sitting right at the top, its refreshing to hear the passion Sean has for equality. He is clearly passionate about making a change and believes it’s crucial to stand up against discrimination and fight for equity. We agree!

Ramp It Up! Was launched by the Inclusion and Diversity team at emap and Faversham House. It is a not-for-profit campaign, that gently encourages venues and AV production companies to provide handrail ramp access for free and as a standard provision at all conferences, award ceremonies and events in the UK and Ireland.

Sean said “We’ve recognised that there are increasing amounts of people with severe movement impairment or limited mobility attending our events year on year, and there is so much more both event venues and AV companies can do to accommodate this!”

“It shouldn’t be up to anyone who has additional accessibility needs to notify venues of this beforehand – they should be able to attend safe in the knowledge that they will be able to access all areas of the event easily and comfortably. Those holding the event shouldn’t have to bear the sometimes-huge additional cost of a standard handrail ramp to meet their guest’s accessibility requirements, either.”

Here’s what Ramp It Up pledges to do:

Approach event venues and AV companies, to encourage them to get behind the campaign and enquiring as to whether they provide ramps with handrails at all their events, free of charge.

Work alongside all venues and AV companies that get behind Ramp It Up! By allowing them to display the Ramp It Up! Logo on their marketing materials and communications, showing they’re providing the necessary facilities.

Produce a list of all venues and AV that have signed up to the campaign to be displayed on their LinkedIn page and in their marketing materials to show they are going above and beyond for their visitor’s accessibility.

“Accessibility is a right, not a privilege.”

Boosting Brand Image with Inclusivity

In the age of social media, inclusivity (or the lack thereof) can significantly impact a brand or organisation’s public perception. An inclusive event can boost a brand’s image, showcasing its commitment to values such as equality, diversity, and social responsibility.

Economic Benefits of embracing Inclusivity

From a business perspective, inclusive events can attract a wider audience, leading to higher ticket sales, broader sponsorship opportunities, and overall increased return.

Planning Inclusive Events:

Diverse Representation: Ensure that your line-up of speakers, panellists, and entertainers is diverse and reflective of different perspectives.

Accessibility: For everyone – as standard.

Cultural Sensitivity: Be mindful of religious holidays, dietary restrictions, and cultural norms when planning your event.

Continuous Feedback: Engage with your audience and ask for feedback. Understand what they loved and where you can improve in terms of inclusivity.


  • Ensure registration forms capture as much information as possible.
  • Suggest to include an Accessibility and Inclusivity section where delegates can select multiple options to advise of their needs. The ownness however, shouldn’t only be on an individual to tell the event planners.
  • Add a free text box so guests can detail information on their requirements.
  • Add a line stating that someone from the event will be in contact with them to reconfirm their requirements and to offer different support options that will be available for the event.
  • Include a ‘what is your preferred method of contact’ question to do the above – to ensure you are contact the delegate in a way that supports their needs and requirements.

During the event

  • Have dedicated member of the team which heads up Accessibility and Inclusivity aspects – they would be the main point of call for clarification on anything during the event.
  • Any delegates which have noted they have accessibility or inclusivity needs should be flagged or highlighted, so the hosts checking them in are prompted to check their notes and provide correct information on collateral.
  • Hosts to be advised to offer support to delegates – do not assume they need it. I.e., don’t grab someone’s arm or guide them if they are sight impaired.
  • Document what support is taken up – this is essential insights for future events.


Ramps and Step Free Access – For attendees with restricted mobility or in wheelchairs, ramps in place where there isn’t step-free or lift access as standard.

Literature – Floor plans which indicate lifts, escalators, step-free access etc.

Support – Ensure there are plenty of staff available which can provide support with movements around the venue.


Signers – Provide signers either in the theatres/stages or offer as a ‘buddy’ for the event, this person would stay with them throughout the event.

Closed Captions – Closed captions on screens throughout all sessions.

Hearing Loop – Confirm if your venue has hearing loops installed if hearing loops are installed confirm what areas the loop can/is activated. Make sure signage is clear to show where loops are active. Perhaps include on a map for them which indicates Loop areas.

Headphones – For guests with hearing impairments at different ranges but don’t wear/need a hearing aid, provide wireless headphones which would be tuned into the specific theatres/stages


Guides – Offer a guide for the event. The guide would act as a ‘buddy’ to help the delegate navigate around the event, walk them to and from the different sessions etc.

Guide Dogs – If you have a delegate which states they will have a guide dog with them. Offer for the delegate and their Guide Dog to visit the venue, maybe the week prior to the event, and have someone to walk all the routes with them so they and their guide dogs can do them at least once prior to their first visit. Remember to cater for the dog’s needs too.

Braille – Provide maps, literature including timetables etc. with braille.


More and more people are suffering with anxiety and overstimulation when in new environments or in crowded spaces.

Quiet Space – By providing a ‘quiet space’ for delegates to decompress/catch a breath it allows them to continue their day with lowered stress and anxiety levels. Well-being areas are becoming more and more popular at events.

  • Offer a quiet space for delegates to use if they are feeling anxious, overwhelmed or overstimulated.
  • Quiet space should be calm, low lighting
  • Noise-cancelling headphones available
  • Calming scents in the room
  • Things like fidget poppers, magazines/newspapers available

All of the above could be self-managed, or you can get companies in like Event Well which can manage/hosts these spaces, provide everything, and also provide well-being sessions.

Nook Pods are something else you could use for quiet spaces, originally designed for people on the spectrum to use for a safe, quiet space, Nook Pods have become very popular at events and are often used for providing a quiet private space, or a private meeting or work spaces

  • Nook Pods are fully brandable and moveable pods with sound proofing.
  • As standard they come with the soundproofing around the inside of the pod, they have power and a light (which can change colours)
  • Originally designed for people on the spectrum to use when they need to decompress if they become overwhelmed or stimulated.

Educate and Train: Ensure your team is well versed in the importance of inclusivity. Consider diversity and inclusivity training, there is a lot to learn and educate our biased minds – training and awareness can only add value, both personally and commercially.

Inclusivity in event planning is more than just checking a box; it’s about creating environments where everyone feels valued and included. It enriches the event experience, ensuring attendees leave with new perspectives and a sense of belonging. As event planners, let’s lead the charge in making inclusivity the standard, not the exception.

You can find out more on National Inclusivity Day here:

If inclusion matters to you and your organisation, please get behind this campaign and help to


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