Disability Pride Month may be over, but accessibility is a year-round commitment. At ABA, we’re already preparing for Winter Institute 2024, and that includes looking at our venues and programming through an accessibility lens. While we make these decisions with hundreds of people in mind, several of our accommodations are scalable and can be implemented for any size store event.
Here are some of the things ABA considers that you can easily adapt for your own store:
One of the easiest accommodations you can provide is accessible seating.
Do you set out seating for author talks? If so, reserve a chair at the front and back of the seating area. Anyone who needs to be close to the speaker or close to the exit is welcome to the accessible seats.
Maybe your store isn’t big enough for fully seated events. It’s still a good idea to have a few chairs available for customers who cannot stand for long periods of time.
Consider making water available to your customers. Not only is this summer mercilessly breaking heat records, many conditions and medications increase the risk of dehydration.
Depending on your space and budget, your options range from the quintessential office water cooler to a simple refillable water dispenser. While this can be an event-only consideration, you can easily make this a permanent fixture in your store.
This one won’t look the same for everyone. It’s easy to get overstimulated at a loud or crowded event, so consider what you can offer to guests who need a moment to recharge.
A big store may be able to set aside a corner or room as a designated quiet area. For smaller stores, this may be an announcement. For example, letting parents know before a storytime that they can step outside if their child gets overwhelmed and that it won’t be an issue.
A quiet space doesn’t need to be (and often can’t) be completely removed from an event. It just needs to be a calmer area where people can take a moment.
Open Communication Lines
When you look at Institute material, you’ll often see the contact information for our DEIA Manager encouraging people to reach out with accessibility questions. In advertising for an event, you can add a similar accessibility statement or line of communication. It can be as simple as “If you have accessibility questions, please contact [store email/phone].”
This opens the door for customers who are interested in an event, and lets them know you’re willing to discuss the limitations of your space and possible accommodations.