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Making Events Accessible

We hope you find this information helpful in creating a fully accessible program for all students, staff, faculty, and guests. Please read through these guidelines carefully and feel free to contact the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) at any time to discuss any of the accommodations. We look forward to working with you to make your program enjoyable and accessible for everyone.

The information below is also available in a printable guide:  Event Planning Handout

Event Location

As an institution that is required to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Johns Hopkins University must ensure that all events are accessible to those who wish to attend. All event organizers are asked to place an access statement in the materials announcing the event. Therefore, all meetings and events at the university open to the student and university community, or to the public, should be scheduled in accessible rooms, when possible. This requirement applies to academic events, whether curricular or co-curricular, and to all student organization meetings. If for any reason, a non-accessible meeting room is chosen and the sponsoring department receives a request from an individual with a disability, the sponsoring department must make every effort to work with its respective room scheduler to find an alternate location that is accessible.

Audio and Visual

  • If an attendee who is deaf and uses hearing aids submits a request for an FM system (ALD), the event organizer will need to contact OIE to determine the best way to obtain one.
  • If a video is being shown, every effort should be made before the event either to purchase it with captioning or to work with OIE to add captioning. (Note: YouTube has automatic captioning as on option on all videos.)
  • If the presentation includes a PowerPoint, every effort should be made to describe and/or read what is on the slide for any participant who is blind.

Interpreters and Transcribers

  • All departments are strongly encouraged to request interpreters and transcribers for all programs and events.
  • To enable sign language interpreters and transcribers to provide appropriate and adequate access for your event, please request program information from your speaker and provide it to the interpreter at least one week in advance. It is expected that last-minute changes will occur, and adjustments can be easily made. Please submit updated information as soon as possible.
  • Interpreters are part of your stage setup. Please remember to include a chair and, if appropriate, a music stand. Interpreters need to be placed near the speaker to ensure visibility. A wireless headset, connected to the speaker’s microphone, will enable the interpreter to hear the speaker more effectively.
  • Interpreters should be in a well-lit area and easily seen at all times. Keep in mind that when the lights are turned off, the participant who is deaf no longer has access to information.
  • Transcribers should be seated in a location where they can best hear the speaker. A wireless headset, connected to the speaker’s microphone, will enable the transcriber to hear the speaker more effectively.


  • Johns Hopkins University does not provide wheelchairs for any individual. Information regarding resources within the community is available on the OIE website.
  • Each department will need to reserve seating areas for guests requiring the services of a sign language interpreter. This area should be located near the front of the audience area and in close proximity to the interpreter. Unoccupied seats should be released when the program begins.
  • As often as possible, individuals who use wheelchairs should be able to sit comfortably with their friends, companions, and other participants. The setup of your venue may need to be re-evaluated to ensure access for all participants. Chairs may need to be removed to accommodate the wheelchair. If participants need to access the stage, a ramp should be made available.
  • Wheelchair seating in rooms with an auditorium-style setup is usually located in the front or back. According to the fire marshal, the aisles must be clear at all times in case of an emergency.

Alternative Formats

To ensure equal access to information about JHU programs and events, the following guidelines are recommended:


  • Maintain a final copy in a MS Word document.
  • Do not include images.
  • Do not use text boxes or frames.
  • Include a statement in the text that the publication is available in alternative formats upon request and supply contact information.

Finished Publications

Fulfilling requests for alternate format publications is the responsibility of the department or office for which the publication was produced. The following are suggested procedures:

  • Designate a specific person to handle requests for publications in an alternate format.
  • The preferred format for alternate format publications to be emailed is as text-only MS Word files, which the requester can print out in whatever size he or she needs.
  • If someone requests a file in Braille, please email the request and file to DSS at
  • If a requester cannot receive email and requests a copy in large print, increase the font size as requested, reorient the copy if necessary (horizontal to vertical for example), and send a copy to the requester.

Audio-visual presentations with text must be shown with open captions.

Sample Statement for Information Brochures

We suggest you add the following statement to all informational brochures, packets, and websites to inform all participants of the procedures for requesting accommodations.

“Please contact___________ (event organizer) at _____(phone or email) at least one week prior to the event to request accommodations. In all situations, a good faith effort (up until the time of the event) will be made to provide accommodations.

If you have questions at any time during the development of your program/event, please feel free to contact the Office of Institutional Equity, ADA compliance officer. We are available to attend meetings and planning sessions to assist you during the early stages of development of your program or event.