It is a legal requirement that all meetings and events sponsored by SUNY New Paltz are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Taking care to create an accessible event benefits not only individuals with visible or known disabilities, but also helps to ensure that all participants and attendees, including those with non-obvious disabilities and/or chronic health conditions, and people of all ages and body types, are able to fully engage in the program. Requests for accommodation for individuals with disabilities must be met unless the burden of doing so is “unreasonable.” Institutions like SUNY New Paltz are legally required go to great lengths to ensure accommodations are met. Other inclusive practices listed in this document are not legally required but are best practices that are consistent with our values as an institution. These are noted with an asterisk.
- When you send out an invitation or notice, include a welcome message to let invitees know they can contact the planner regarding accommodations.
Your message might include text such as:
“We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. To be respectful of those with allergies and environmental sensitivities, we ask that you please refrain from wearing strong fragrances. To request an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact (name, email, phone) two weeks prior to the event.”
One or two days before your event or meeting, send out a reminder about refraining from wearing strong fragrances.
Another approach is to include a checklist in your meeting RSVP, such as:
I will need the following accommodations in order to participate:
___ Assistive listening device
___ Captioning on films
___ Real Time Captioning
___ Reserved front row seat
___ Reserved space for a Wheelchair and seat for a companion
___ Large print (Font size 15-20, some may need to be even larger)
___ Sign Language Interpreter
___ Advance copy of slides to be projected
___ Wheelchair access
___ Lactation room*
___ Gender neutral bathroom*
___ Diet Restrictions*. List: _____________________________________
___ Other: _____________________________
Make sure you follow up on all requests received. If it appears you will be unable to meet a specific request, follow up with the individual who made the request to determine whether an alternative arrangement can be made.
- Advanced event materials should include where accessible parking and entrances are located, and an accessible path between the two.
- Include a statement on flyers/posters about accommodations, such as:
For questions or special accommodations, please contact XYZ dept at PHONE or EMAIL
Check Venue in Advance
Look for these features when inspecting your meeting/event space*:
Visibility – Consider those with impaired sight
Clear signage (identifying location and directions); well-lit meeting space and adjacent areas; projection screen visible from all seating (if using projection).
Acoustics – Consider those with hearing impairment
Public address (PA) system; roving microphone; caption audio/video (see below); limit unnecessary background music; seating available near presenter for lip reading; availability of assistive listening devices. Is there well-lit space for an interpreter if needed?
Mobility – Consider those who may be in a wheelchair or have other mobility impairments
Accessible parking near venue; ramp and/or elevator access; accessible bathrooms; barrier-free pathways; wide doorways and aisles to accommodate wheelchairs/scooters; no loose cables across walking areas. If you will be using a stage be sure to indicate if the stage needs ramp access. Note that not all SUNY New Paltz facilities are accessible to those with mobility impairments (e.g. College Hall). Please use accessible facilities whenever possible.
Technology – Consider those who may need to use adaptive devices
Electrical outlets in accessible seating areas to accommodate devices, laptops, etc.; extra space or work surface. A warning should be provided before use of strobe lighting. Note that WebEx is not accessible.
Service Animals – Consider access and space for service dogs
Comfortable space for service animals to rest during event; accessible toileting and watering facilities nearby.
- At larger events or events with scheduled accommodations, designate someone to be responsible for accommodations as well as help with seating, ensuring captioning and other technology is working, maintaining clear pathways, or other needs*.
- Provide presenters with a checklist requesting that they:
- Submit materials in advance so that they can be forwarded to individuals who may not be able to view screens or flip charts;
- Verbally describe visual materials (e.g., slides, charts, etc.);
- Have printed copies available (in larger font size 15-20, some may even need larger);
- Avoid using small print on presentations that can’t be seen from a distance;
- Ensure speakers (including those asking questions) always use a microphone;
- Activate captions on any video used in the presentation;
- Encourage hourly breaks*; and
- Organize breakout group activities to maximize distance between groups* (e.g. each group going to a corner of the room or side rooms).
- Make sure to repeat questions posed by audience members before responding, especially if there is not a roving microphone available. Presenters or audience members may express confidence that they are loud enough and do not need a microphone. Regardless, ask them to speak into one.
- Clearly indicate allergens and gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or other options*. A loose guideline is to provide 10% vegan/gluten free options and avoid nuts regardless of accommodation requests. Also note religious restrictions and provide alternatives to pork and shellfish products.
To access captions on videos that contain them, toggle the 'CC' button in the video player. This will enable the captions and display them over the video content.
If captions are needed, a request can be put in at support.newpaltz.edu at least one week before the event. The client's video will be uploaded to Ensemble and captioned there. Alternatively, for a low cost, you can get short videos or presentations captioned at https://www.rev.com/caption.
Note that arranging for an interpreter takes time and money. However, if a participant makes this request, it is legally required for your event to provide one or two, depending on the time duration. Also note that if the service is to be provided through a SUNY contract the vendor must be on the approved list of externally hired vendors.
Before the start of any gathering or event, the coordinator should identify accessible exits and areas of refuge to all attendees. Areas of refuge are marked with signage. Note that fire and emergency alarms have both audible and visible signals.
Traveling and Off-campus Events
Ensure that off-campus events are accessible or arrange for necessary accommodations for participants that require them in advance. Note that vehicles transporting individuals to events should be wheelchair accessible.
Have questions about accommodations or accessibility for your event?
Questions regarding facilities:
Student Union: 845-257-3025; https://www.newpaltz.edu/saus/studentunion.html
Academic buildings: 845-257-3100; https://www.newpaltz.edu/registrar/contact-us/#d.en.74328
Facilities: 845-257-3300; https://www.newpaltz.edu/facilities/operation.html
Questions regarding technology:
Information Technology: 845-257-HELP (4357); https://newpaltz.teamdynamix.com/TDClient/Home/
Questions regarding dining:
Sodexo: 845-257-3570; https://newpaltzdining.sodexomyway.com/catering
Questions regarding disabilities:
Disability Resource Center: 845-257-3020; https://www.newpaltz.edu/drc/
Other useful websites that can help make your event or large meeting inclusive:
Most common religious food restrictions: https://thrivemeetings.com/2018/01/religious-dietary-restrictions-guide/