Have you determined if your special event and site meet the potential needs of persons with disabilities? If no, review the accessibility checklist below.

Duke Disability Management System is here to help. In addition to the suggestions and responses to Frequently Asked Questions outlined below, you can contact us for assistance or additional information.

Accessible Entrance

  • Is there a path of travel than does not require use of stairs or navigating uneven terrain?
  • Is there adequate ADA parking available close to the entrance? Are there curb cuts or a flat drop-off area?
  • If there are stairs at the main entrance is there an alternate route (lift, elevator, ramp) close by?
  • Are there accessible restrooms (Male and Female or Unisex) close to the event room?
  • What should we do if we are not sure about the accessibility of our location?

Contact DMS. We can direct you to campus accessibility maps, building directories and building compliance files with information about many of the buildings around Duke. Our facility director can also go to the location to do an on the spot assessment.

Publicity and Invitations

  • Does your publicity and invitations contain information about reasonable accommodations?

Note: We recommend including this statement in event notes: “Please contact us in advance if you have accessibility needs.

It is important to allow enough lead time to work with vendors, especially when requesting interpreters or to allow for materials to be prepared.

Accommodation Requests from Participants

  • What do we do if we receive accommodation requests from those planning to attend out event? DMS can provide support and guidance for these requests.
  • What do we do if some asks: Does your event have an Assistive Listening System? Some sites have a permanent system in place. The facility manager on site should be able to advise on this. If the site does not, DMS can assist with portable units.
  • Should we get a Sign Language interpreter? If a guest requests these, DMS can provide Duke approved vendors for this service.
  • What do we do if some asks: Can we provide Handout Materials in an alternate format? If a guest requests these, DMS can discuss options and suggest means of providing this.

Audio-visual Materials

  • Are these videos captioned for participants with hearing impairments?
  • What do we do if someone with an ADA need wants to bring a companion to the event?

ADA requirements provide for seating for one companion with anyone in a wheelchair. We recommend extending that accommodation to anyone with an ADA concern. (However, the companion would be expected to pay the appropriate entrance fee.)

Accessibility Guidelines for Speakers

Offers tips to make presentations more effective to an audience which may contain those with various disabilities.

  1. Be aware that when presenting to an audience which may include people with visual, learning and cognitive disabilities that all visuals need to be described verbally. Descriptions of visual aids not only help people with a variety of disabilities, descriptions are also often appreciated by those sitting in the back of the room.
  2. Ensure that all visual aids are printed in as large a size as possible. To maximize readability, slides and transparencies should not have more than eight lines of text.
  3. If you are working with sign language interpreters, please:
    • Ensure that the interpreter can be seen when lights are dimmed
    • Do not walk in front of interpreters while they are signing
    • Be sure to slow your speaking rate if you tend to be a rapid speaker
    • Speak directly to the person, not to the interpreter, when addressing a person using an interpreter
    • Spell unusual terms, names and foreign words
    • When using slides, overheads, or referring to handouts, allow extra time to look at each item when you are finished discussing it. (People using interpreters cannot examine items and watch the interpreter at the same time.)
    • Advise us if you plan to divide your audience into smaller groups for certain activities. (Additional interpreters may be needed to avoid having all participants using interpreters in “segregated” groups.)
    • Use captioned films, videos, and slide shows, if at all possible. If unable to obtain captioned materials, please try to obtain a text copy of the script so that it may be provided to interpreter(s).
  4. Use the amplification system provided.
  5. Face the audience when you speak and avoid putting your hands over your mouth so those who lip read can understand you.
  6. Repeat all questions into the microphone before answering them if a microphone is not available to the audience.
  7. Ensure that only one audience member speaks at a time.
  8. Provide handout materials for your presentation in advance so that they can be converted to alternate format(s), e.g., Braille, audio tape, large print or computer disk, as necessary.

Always inquire whether the individuals invited to speak at the meeting/conference have any accommodation needs (ex. ramp, podium, type of microphone, etc.)

Excerpted from Kailes, June and Jones, Darryl. A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings.


Assistive Listening Systems

Contact our office if you need an assistive listening system for your event. Receivers can be borrowed free of charge from the Disability Management System.

Contact Us


Provides background information which will be needed to arrange for a sign language interpreter for an event.

Obtaining Interpreters

Accommodation and Alternative Format Statements

Recommends accommodation statement that should be included in any publication describing a specific program or event. Alternative format statement is intended to notify people with various disabilities, such as low vision, blindness or learning disabilities that they can obtain written materials in another format, such as searchable PDFs, larger font, audio, Braille, e-text, etc.

Recommended Statements

Equal opportunity cannot be achieved unless individual persons with disabilities are aware that such accommodations and adjustments are available.

It is recommended that the following alternative format and accommodation statements be used where applicable.

  1. Alternative Format Statement (This statement should be printed in an easy-to read type size and placed in a location that is easy to notice.)

    This publication is available in alternative format on request. Please call (insert telephone number).

  2. Accommodation Statement (This statement should be printed in any publication that describes a specific program or special event, e.g., seminar, film, speaker, performing arts series, employment programming, etc.)

    Duke University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact (telephone number of the sponsor) in advance of your participation or visit.

  3. Abbreviated Accommodation Statement (Use the abbreviated version only when space constraints are severe.)

    Persons with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations or who have questions about physical access may contact (telephone number of the sponsor) in advance of the program (or film, event, etc).

Event Site Assessment

Contact our office if a site needs an evaluation for accessibility including routes to the facility as well as parking and transportation options.

Contact Us