Event Accessibility

(credit Ohio State University)

LSU strives to make all programs and activities accessible to participants. Increasing access includes thoughtful consideration toward physical, digital and programmatic accessibility and requires coordination across campus, as well as participation of those seeking accommodation. The primary responsibility for planning accessible events and rendering accommodation rests with the event organizer. Event organizers may consult with the ADA Coordinator for guidance.

Why do Events Need to be Accessible?

1 in 3 Louisiana residents has a disability. Increasing accessibility efforts in planning helps to meet needs of many participants, even if no individual requests an accommodation. Planning for access lessens the need for participants to request accommodation.

LSU is obligated by federal and state laws to ensure program accessibility to persons with disabilities, to provide reasonable accommodations to afford access, to remove barriers to full participation, and to modify policies, practices or procedures as necessary to afford access for an individual. Beyond that, it is simply the right thing to do and enhances the ability for all to participate.

Plan and Ask Early

Each event has a unique function and audience. Whether you’re planning a conference, symposium, science fair, athletic exhibition or other event, access matters. There is no singular way to provide access so it is essential to walk through your event experience and consider places where you may invite attendees to disclose needs for accommodation during your planning process. In all communications include an Accommodation Statement and designate someone the contact for accommodation. During the event, designate and make known indivdiuals responsible for accommodations as well as help with seating, ensuring captioning and other technology is working, maintaining clear pathways, or other needs.


When budgeting for meetings or conferences, don’t forget to list accommodating people with disabilities as a budget item. For instance, you may need a sign language interpreter, captionist, assistive listening devices, or media in an alternate format (e.g., handouts in large print or Braille).

Use an Accommodation Statement

Let participants know in advance and at the event that accommodations can be made for a variety of needs. Including an accommodation statement on all of your communication (registration forms, flyers, e-mail, advertisements, etc.) will help you communicate this clearly and frequently. Examples to consider, of course including specific contacts for your department::

  • To ask questions about accessibility or request accommodations, please contact (name) at (include phone and an email address so that someone with a hearing or verbal impairment can make inquiries). At least two weeks' advance notice will help us to provide seamless access.
  • If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact (name) at (phone and an email) by (specific date). Please be aware that advance notice is requested as some accommodations may require lead time to arrange.
  • We strive to host accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. To request an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact (name) at (phone and email).
  • If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please check here. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs.

Make the Entire Event Accessible and Enjoyable

When planning social functions and meals, include personal assistants and interpreters at no additional cost. All participants should also be able to sit in the same area. If there’s a buffet, have servers available to assist, since buffets can be particularly difficult for persons with mobility or visual impairments. If outside entertainment or transportation is on the agenda, make sure it is accessible to all participants.

Conduct an on-site visit to the event facility to determine if there are barriers to accessibility. Even when a facility says it complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, you need to check to ensure that there are no last-minute surprises. Consider barriers that may affect those with a wide range of impairments (e.g., visual, hearing, and mobility) in a variety of areas, including:

  • Accessibility/availability: parking, hotel shuttles, public transportation
  • Entrances and interior doorways: width, ramps, automatic door openers
  • Signage: location of accessible bathrooms, entrances.
  • Corridors, doorways, and aisles: width for wheelchair access
  • Elevators: easy access, adequate numbers
  • Sleeping rooms and restrooms
  • Meeting rooms/meal areas: extra capacity and table space for wheelchairs and assistance animals, space for a clear line of sight to the interpreter/captionist
  • Dining facilities and catering: ability to accommodate dietary restrictions
  • A quiet break space with extra capacity
  • Toileting space for assistance animals

Presentations and Materials

  • As the event planner, you will want to work with invited speakers and presenters to ensure that presentations and materials are accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • Ask the presenter(s) to provide a copy of the presentation materials well in advance to allow for preparation of alternative format versions (large print, Braille, etc.).
  • Presenters, facilitators, speakers should always face the audience when speaking and use a microphone.
  • Videos to be used during the presentation should be captioned in advance.
  • If using slides, be sure they are completely legible, with large print and sharp, contrasting colors; the presenter should also allow adequate time for the audience to read the visual aids.

Live Captioning

If your unit is planning to live stream an event (i.e., individual college commencements; live concerts, or anything that has a large, external, public-facing aspect - see FAQs below), the event must also be captioned live. This is in order to be compliant with federal policy and is mandated by the University. The University recommends that you use VITAC, a live captioning software company, for any live captioning needs. Please use the VITAC order instructions to book services as soon as you can. (However, you may also use other vendors or utilize a certified transcriptionist.) Here is an order demo video.

Transcription services provide live captioning for video live streamed through a website. If you will also (or will only) be live streaming at a physical location to TV screens, projectors or other types of digital display (as in the case of regular commencement ceremonies), you have two options for meeting university accessibility requirements:

  1. Embed the live caption window (provided by the link the vendor sends to you) onto the video screen. This can be done by resizing the text and window to fit at the bottom of the screen. Essentially, you will have two windows open at the same time.
  2. Provide an additional screen somewhere in the physical location solely for the captioned text as live captions do not show up as regular closed caption text seen on TV. Therefore, you could have one screen for the live video feed and one for the live captioned text.

Although many web conferencing services, including Teams and Zoom, provide automated machine captions, these are not 100% accurate and do not meet the legal requirements for making an event accessible. Therefore, it is highly suggested that a transcription service be utilized.

Sign Language Interpreters (ASL)

All event organizers are strongly encouraged to consider needs for ASL interpreters. When an accommodation request is received, the event organizer is responsible for arranging and securing it. Please note that a good practice is to ensure availability by contacting interpreting agencies at least one week before services are required. The current provider list may be found here.

Tips for planning interpreter services:

  1. Upon contacting the agency indicate what type of event you’re planning including any physical components (walking tour of campus), how long the event will last, whether a script is available, name and phone number of individual event contact, formality of event and any other pertinent information relevant to your event.
  2. Interpreters are part of your stage setup. Include a chair and, if using a script, a music stand. Place the interpreter near the speaker. A wireless headset connected to the speaker’s microphone helps the interpreter hear the speaker more clearly ensuring a more accurate message to the audience.
  3. Interpreters should be in a well-lit area at all times. If the venue is darkened, ensure additional lighting in the area of the interpreter. If the signer can’t be seen, deaf participants no longer have access to information.
  4. If the interpreter will be on campus during hours the central campus is gated, consider parking access to your event.


What is considered a Live Event per this regulation?

An event can be best described as anything that is not a regular business or class meeting. For example, anything where invitations are being sent, registration is taking place, or participants from outside the university are being invited to participate; especially if events are effectively open to members of the general public.

Do I need to provide live captioning for my internal business meetings, calls, or video-conferencing?

For online meetings and calls that are a routine part of conducting university business, live captioning is not required unless a participant requests that this be done.

Do I need to provide live captioning for live lecture capture of my class?

Online class meetings for academic courses (offerings in the course catalog) do not need live captioning. Enrolled students who require accommodations for their academic coursework can work with the Office of Disability Services to meet their specific needs. Note that digital resources and content (documents, videos, etc.) are still required to meet the relevant accessibility standards if posted to Moodle or a website.

What are some other vendors that can be used for live captioning?

LSU does not endorse any specific vendors, but several units on campus have acquired services from the following:

Please contact the specific vendor of your choosing to identify the services you need. LSU recommends using VITAC as they are a national leader in live transcriptions, and they have a large number of transcriptionists employed to assist with any last minute transcription needs.

What if I have questions about what I should offer at my event?

The ADA Coordinator can assist in talking through planning your event.

Can I ask audience members for my event in advance if they require a captioning accommodation prior to the event?

Yes, you can (and should) make an accommodation request part of your registration flow, encouraging requests as far in advance as possible.

Do I need to provide live captions for free, live webinars? Or for webinars that charge a registration fee?

Yes and Yes.

Is there recommended language to include in event registration emails/links to ensure accessibility?

Yes. You can include this statement: "If you require an accommodation such as live captioning or interpretation to participate in this event, please contact (event organizer name) at (event organizer email address) or (event organizer phone number). Requests made by (date) will generally allow us to provide seamless access, but the university will make every effort to meet requests made after this date."

Additional Information

For more information on creating accessible events, visit

the Composing Access site from Ohio State University.