The company organizes an event. For example, a conference for sales department employees of all regional branch offices. The event takes place in one of the capital’s hotels with its own beach. One of the employees comes to the event. Two weeks ago, he got into an accident, and during the rehabilitation period, he is forced to move in a wheelchair. He really wants to take part in the conference and communicate with colleagues.
At the front desk, he asks if people in wheelchairs have access to all locations of the event. He also clarifies that he needs a special diet and asks which table will be served with appropriate dishes. The administrator responds with a shrug and recommends asking questions to organizers.
Having got comfortable a little, the guest understands: the main action of the conference was moved to the beach area, where narrow steps lead without a ramp. When asked about the diet menu, the waiters shrug. After 15 minutes, the guest leaves the event, feeling deprived, unnecessary, unnoticed and hungry.
The organizers of such a conditional event (perhaps without even realizing it) violated the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in Ukraine in 2006. It is based on similar international documents and prohibits any form of discrimination against people with disabilities and other physical disabilities.
But, as already mentioned, the above example is conditional. Many people with physical limitations have no external manifestations. Diabetes, food allergies, diseases of internal organs – these invisible shortcomings affect many. Their needs and rights must be taken into account when organizing events.
Features of people taken into account when organizing an event
At almost any event, there may be people with special needs. Here are the most common problems.
The reaction can be provoked not only by food intake but also by touch or even inhalation of its smell. The reaction of the organism can be light (rash, cough) or reach severe signs (swelling of the throat, loss of consciousness). A severe allergic reaction is potentially fatal.
What to do: check with all participants in advance whether they have a food allergy and on which products. Examine the components of the dishes on the menu and identify all potentially dangerous ones. Ideally, they should be excluded from the menu: it is cheaper than creating separate hypoallergenic dishes.
A healthy menu of diabetics, in fact, coincides with recommendations for proper nutrition for everyone. These are low-fat meals with a moderate amount of salt and sugar. These are vegetables having no starch in their composition, meat without fat, whole grain bread, fruits, and healthy fats.
What to do: make a separate menu for participants with diabetes or exclude from the general list of dishes fried foods, fatty dishes and everything that is not recommended to eat for this category of people.
Problems arise most often due to celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, colitis, diverticulitis. In this case, people are forbidden to eat certain categories of food in order to avoid getting to the hospital.
What to do: clarify in advance about such problems, organize a special menu.
Some medications for heart disease do not interact well with specific foods. The latter reduces the effectiveness or provoke side effects: high blood pressure, heart failure, etc.
What to do: collect information about visitors before the event: include an item in the questionnaire about the occupation and diseases of all participants.
Preparing a generally available area
People with special needs when attending the event should have access to all locations and facilities for guests. There are several universal recommendations on how to provide guests with disabilities with everything they need:
- The choice of location. Relevant public routes to the event location. We need convenient and clear information signs: name of the area, route, and travel time. The location should have access to specially equipped toilet rooms. Necessary is the presence of ramps, wide doors, and spacious elevators.
- Elements for filling an event. It is necessary to take into account the height and width of the seating tables: so that access to food and drinks is not restricted for people in wheelchairs or with walkers. It is also important to make sure that the service staff is ready to help people with special needs.
- Planning of the area and the access to it. Incorrect arrangement of elements can block access and prevent people from moving freely around the location. It is necessary to create routes for them to all areas and provide seating.
- Lighting and sound. It is necessary to provide comfortable conditions for visual and auditory communication. You may need to bring in an expert who knows what technique is needed for this.
- Transport. Meeting at the airport or train station, moving between locations, excursions as part of the event: for all cases, along with standard transport, it is necessary to provide specially equipped cars or buses.
- Buffet lunches. Tables for them are high: out of reach for people in wheelchairs. Therefore, it is better to give up on them or provide for sufficient personnel to help.
- Serving and preparation of products. People with limited sleight of hand need lightweight containers with lids for food and drinks. Helpings should be prepared: so that there is no need to additionally chop, mix.
- Bedding. Without long blankets and other textiles, which can get entangled in the wheels of the chair.
- Signboards, menus, labeling. Font – minimum 18 bp, sans-serif, on glossy paper and with high color contrast. Then it will be recognizable enough for people with low vision.
Disease or disability is not a person’s own choice. These states require special conditions. Only with their observance a person can live full lives, work and take part in events. Event managers have legal and ethical obligations: they must create events with equal conditions for everyone. This has a positive effect on the quality of events and the reputation of the organizers.
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