Finnish Game Industry Event Accessibility Guidelines
Why we’re doing this
Disabled people don’t just play games, they make them. Events are an important means to network and grow your career, but if they are designed in such a way that makes them difficult to attend, or even impossible to attend for disabled people, then they can not truly be called inclusive or diverse.
Disability can be permanent, situation, or temporary. Any one of us could become temporarily injured at any time and need any number of the guidelines mentioned above in order to participate comfortably in an event.
A word from the author
If you feel that something important is missing from these guidelines, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback.
- Consider accessibility when choosing a venue. What are the acoustics like? How wide are interior doors? Is the venue wheelchair accessible? Does it have a separate accessible bathroom? Does it include anywhere that can be used as a quiet room?
- Assign a single contact point who has ultimate responsibility for event accessibility, and ensure they are available on-site to resolve any unforeseen issues on the day.
- Write an accessibility policy, and ensure all event staff (including volunteers) are fully aware of it.
Example: https://a11yto.com/accessibility-statement. Staff should be trained on things like accessible booth setup, terminology, what is OK and not OK, who the contact point is, what a medical pass is, and when training staff about accessibility, ensure they have a safe space to ask whatever questions they need.
- Publish your accessibility statement on your event’s main page in clear, readable plain text, not inside an image. Link to this information from the site’s navigation, and the signup form (Eventbrite, Google Forms, et al.), as well as any Facebook event pages or websites.
- Events should aim to be hybrid wherever possible.
- All events should have a clear point of contact for attendees with questions, concerns, or comments regarding accessibility. This person should also be at the event to help with any issues that may arise, and be willing to help find solutions without making the person needing help feel guilty or like a burden.
- Provide accessibility pointers to exhibitors and speakers (see resources section below).
- Provide captioning for all talks, and ensure the stage itself is fully accessible; wheelchair access, accessible seating, choice of microphone type, etc.
- Your Eventbrite or event signup form should include the option for attendees to either detail any accessibility needs they may have, or the option for attendees to instead indicate if they’d like to be contacted regarding accessibility needs or questions. This second option is to lower the threshold for reaching out and reduce anxiety or pressure for some people.
- Allow assistants (“saattaja” or “avustaja” in Finnish) to attend for free. Without being a member of any organization.
- Treat disabled attendees with the same respect as you would any other attendees, especially when the inevitable unforeseen issues crop up.
- If feedback forms are sent out after the event, make sure there is a space on the form to give feedback relating to accessibility, and that this feedback is acted upon if need be.
All events should be able to be fully enjoyed and attended by people of any physical ability, regardless of the tools or aids they use (wheelchair, crutches, white cane, hearing aids, et al.). When choosing an event venue, it is important that the event space is large enough for people using a wheelchair or other tools to move around comfortably, and that there is also a bathroom for people using said tools. If this is not possible, the venue is not fit for the purpose and should not be selected.
- Make sure the accessible bathrooms are not accessed only by stairs, and that the paths to the bathroom are clear and wide.
- Avoid places with a lot of stairs, small steps, or uneven flooring. Provide wheelchair ramps if possible.
- Choose a venue that is easy to get to by public transportation, which doesn’t involve a lot of bus or train transfers, crossing highways or other busy roads.
- Make sure there is an adequate amount of chairs to sit in, not just bar stools. Provide a space for a wheelchair(s) too.
- Avoid thick carpet, tall tables, immovable seating, and standing-only demos.
- Make sure all walking areas are well-lit. Avoid dim lighting, as this can make navigating independently impossible for the visually impaired.
- Make sure that if there is signage around the venue, for example with instructions or arrows, there is someone available to help any guests who can’t read the signs, and that the signage itself is large and high contrast.
- Avoid venues that have a lot of echoes.
- Make sure that all important information about the event, schedules, or anything else is available in written form, and that any ad hoc announcements at the event are not just called out, but also written down or signed.
- Ensure assistance – or how to get it – is very clearly signposted at the registration desk.
- Work with disabled people in advance of the event, this can highlight issues that can be resolved far more easily in advance than trying to fix them on the day.
- Offer medical passes to let people skip queues etc., anything that involves sustained standing or effort.
- Research which accessibility regulations apply to buildings and events in your country, but be aware that they are a bare minimum, meaning that you should exceed them.
- If food is being offered, make sure that foods for special diets (gluten-free, nut allergies, vegan) are labeled clearly, and ensure an assistant is on-hand to serve people who need assistance and explain the labeling for people who cannot see/read/process it.
- If drinks are offered, provide non-alcoholic options too, and do not push the alcoholic ones.
- Avoid activities and events that focus on things that could be exclusionary or difficult for people with disabilities, for example, sauna nights in private offices that don’t have accessible shower facilities.
- If possible, have a “quiet room” or quiet corner or place for people to go if they become overstimulated.
- Remember to use inclusive language (see resources section below) in your event descriptions and lectures.
- Always ask for advice and feedback, and act on it. None of us are experts in every disability. It’s better to ask and correct your plans than to assume and potentially exclude people.
- Try to keep music at a reasonable volume, or offer a room or space where the music is lower, but is still part of the event.
- Remember to welcome newcomers, and not be exclusionary. Treat everyone at the event with the same level of respect, kindness, and consideration.
- Stand up against ableism whenever you suspect it may be happening.
- Always act immediately on any unforeseen issues that arise. These issues are not the fault of the attendee, they are a failing of our planning. So work hard to ensure that attendees raising issues do not feel like they are a burden. The issue affecting them also affects other people, and not everyone is able to overcome how scary it can be to come forwards.
Studies show that when events are hybrid and able to be attended virtually, the overall diversity of attendants increases1. This happens because attendees aren’t held back by accessibility issues, economic and financial issues, transportation issues, or other factors. In the case of the Finnish game industry, we are very spread out and have many game hubs around the country. The knowledge and opportunities we have to share should not be gatekept to a specific hub or region, or only for those who can afford or manage to physically be in a specific space, but rather should be shared and enjoyed by as many people as possible.
Checklist for a Hybrid presentation
- Make sure all talks at the event are streamed. It’s OK if attendees need to register to receive the stream link.
- Networking opportunities should have a digital equivalent during the event time. For example, a designated place on a Discord server, a chatroom on Zoom, Twitch chat, or another alternative. This allows virtual attendees to network as well.
- If possible, allow the virtual attendees to ask questions during the Q&A. Have someone watch the chat.
- Make sure that the microphone of the main speaker is clear and crisp, and that there isn’t background noise.
- If using Google Meet or Zoom for streaming, enable closed captions.
- Do your best to make sure the speaker isn’t speaking in a place with a lot of echo or background noise.
- If presenters and speakers are also remote, make sure that they are also using good-quality microphones and in a quiet, echo-free place.
- Speakers should be reminded to provide slides (ideally also as plain text) and describe images out loud.
Accessible events – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIPru9k9Kbc
Accessible presentations – https://igda-gasig.org/get-involved/speaking-at-conferences/
Inclusive language – https://www.sie.com/uploads/sites/15/2021/05/Sony-Interactive-Entertainment-ABLE@PlayStation-Inclusive-Language-Guide-1.pdf