Holding an accessible meeting

Estimated read time: 2 minutes and 12 seconds

Meetings are a daily occurrence in the Public Service. Learn how to host and facilitate meetings where everyone can participate fully.

Who does this affect?

  • Amaruq has dwarfism and uses a wheelchair. He has arrived for a meeting with his colleagues. The room that was booked doesn’t have enough space for his device, so they have to switch rooms.
  • Cheung has red-green colour blindness. He has trouble seeing what is being written on the flip charts because his colleague is using a light-coloured marker.
  • Gabriela has astigmatism, she’s attending a webinar. The facilitator is using a white mouse pointer on a white background to lead participants through an activity. She has trouble following because she can’t see the mouse pointer.

 

Meeting information

  1. Give participants the opportunity to identify any accommodations they may need in your invitation. This gives you time to arrange for any requests. You can use something like: To make this meeting as accessible as possible, please let me know if you require any accommodations to participate.
  2. If needed, book the requested support. This may mean you need to shift your meeting date based on availability
  3. Give as much advanced notice as possible for meetings. This allows people time to do things like: book an interpreter or schedule a ride in an accessible vehicle
  4. If relevant: Provide information on parking or transportation to participants in your invitation. Are there accessible parking spaces or drop-off areas close to an accessible entrance?
  5. Where is the meeting room? Will someone meet participants to direct them? Will they have far to walk? Provide this information in advance.
  6. When possible, provide multiple ways for participants to attend, such as in-person or by phone.

Meeting materials

  1. Use the Accessible Gov Toolkit to make sure your meeting materials such as PowerPoint presentations, Word documents or PDFs are as accessible as possible
  2. If requested, send electronic meeting agendas or PowerPoint slides in advance
  3. Use plain language: simple words and short sentences
  4. Use high contrast colours
  5. Use at least a 12-point sans serif font such as Arial or Verdana

In-person meetings

  1. Think about the space where you’re hosting your meeting. Are there any barriers that may cause difficulty for someone using a mobility device? Don’t just focus on the room, consider the passage from the front door to the meeting location. This may include: stairs, narrow or cluttered hallways, heavy doors or hard to reach key fob readers, how far away is someone going to have to go to reach the room?
  2. Where are the accessible washrooms located? Is there a gender-neutral option available?
  3. Leave spaces for those using mobility devices and or guide/service animals
  4. If it’s a big meeting, consider reserving seating near the front for those who may have difficulty seeing or hearing the presenter
  5. If a sign language interpreter is present, position in an unobstructed and clearly visible location
  6. Consider allergies such as those related to scents and food

Phone or Skype meetings

  1. Have people introduce themselves before they speak, each time they speak. This helps people know who is talking
  2. Make sure you position yourself close enough to the microphone to be heard clearly
  3. Speak slowly and don't speak over other people
  4. Describe images or words projected on the screen
  5. Encourage people to mute their phones when not speaking to avoid distracting noises

Presentations

  1. Check for shadows or glare which can make it difficult to see
  2. Avoid turning the lights down completely during a PowerPoint presentation. Good lighting helps those who read lips or use sign language
  3. Choose a meeting room without a considerable echo, especially for phone conferences
  4. Speak slowly and describe images or words projected on the screen or written on white boards, chalk boards, flip charts etc.
  5. Use white board markers that can easily be seen. Avoid light coloured markers
  6. Use Closed Captioning options for presentation of videos