Event Compliance

NOVA is one of 23 colleges in the Virginia Community College System approved by the State Board for Community Colleges and by the Virginia Community College System.

Planning Accessible Events

What events must be accessible?

Every type of program, meeting, exhibit, tour and event, whether held for the NOVA community or open to the public, must consider the access needs of persons with disabilities. This includes all NOVA-sponsored activities held off-campus.

Who is responsible for disability access to an event?

Event planners are responsible for planning and providing for the accessibility needs of participants with disabilities at any event sponsored on behalf of the College. Advance planning for accessibility will maximize the opportunity for all to participate and minimize the need for last-minute and perhaps costly changes. For instance, if an event requires bus transportation, there is no extra cost for requesting a wheelchair-accessible bus in advance. If an accessible bus is not requested, but a participant requires a wheelchair-accessible bus, alternative transportation options will have to be provided and usually will not result in an equitable experience for the participant with a disability.

Who is responsible for any expenses associated with providing disability access?

The costs associated with disability access are considered part of the overall expense of the event. Event planners should include the expense of any anticipated accommodations as a budget item in the event planning. Most accommodations can be made at little or no cost, such as choosing a wheelchair-accessible venue for the event. Accommodations such as sign language interpreting will incur a cost. Event planners who think the cost of the accommodations cannot be supported by the event should discuss alternative funding sources with their supervisor or advisor. Before denying any accommodation requests, event planners should consult with the ADA Specialist.

Advice for Accessible Event Planning

The following suggestions will help you plan an accessible event and respond to requests for disability accommodations and modifications. The ADA Specialist is available to answer questions you may have about access or an individual’s request for accommodations. The United States Department of Justice has provided in-depth information about hosting accessible meetings.

Know Your Space

  • Where is the accessible entrance to the building?
  • Where is the nearest accessible restroom?
  • Where is the nearest universal restroom?
  • Is there an elevator?
  • Is the event space entirely accessible, e.g. does the stage need a ramp?
  • Does your seating plan allow wide enough travel paths for a wheelchair?
  • Are tables for meals and meetings at 34" or lower to allow wheelchair access?

Ask for Accommodation Requests

Include a disability accommodation statement that invites participants with disabilities to ask for accommodations in advance of the event in all pre-event publicity and registration materials.

The disability accommodation statement should provide an event contact email and phone number. Sample statement:

“If you need accommodations for a disability, please contact [event sponsor] at [phone number and/or email] at least one week in advance.”

Advice for Accessible Event Planning

Accessible Media

Check that all publicity materials, including website and online registration forms, are accessible (e.g. utilize electronic text and not just PDFs). Provide the option for registration by phone.

Presentation Guidelines

Encourage presenters to follow accessibility guidelines:

  • PowerPoints
    • Color contrast.
    • Font size of at least 24pt.
    • Have a paper copy of PPT available.
    • Provide option to receive PPT after presentation via link or email.
    • Describe important images and read-aloud key text.
  • Videos should include Closed Captioning.
  • Consider providing an ASL interpreter for keynote presentations. To request an interpreter, contact interpreters@nvcc.edu.
  • Speakers should use microphones. Have a microphone available for questions, or repeat audience questions into the microphone.

During the Event

Event staff should be aware of the general obligation to provide accommodation for people with disabilities. Staff should be prepared to offer assistance (directions for drop-off and accessible parking, seating or using the amenities of the building, etc.).