Accessibility Guidelines Around the World


As event planners design meetings and events, it’s important to ensure compliance with all accessibility regulations in the jurisdictions where they are having their meetings. Even if a particular destination does not have legislation, referring to the guidelines of other jurisdictions will ensure that best practices are observed. While it is not possible to go into detail about each destination, here are some highlights.


In the U.S., the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation outline specific requirements for ensuring accessibility. These are applicable throughout the U.S. The public facilities covered include many where events are frequently held: restaurants and bars, service establishments, theaters, places of lodging, recreation facilities, assembly areas, private museums, and places of education. Transportation vehicles and facilities are also covered. The guidelines are quite comprehensive so it is important to consult the United States Access Board website for full details.

In addition to this, some U.S. states have their own provisions.


The Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establish the framework and requirement to ensure accessibility for all. Canada has accessibility standards at both the federal and provincial levels. Under federal guidelines, there is a duty to accommodate in the areas of:

  • physical accommodation
  • communication
  • assistive accommodation through technological and human support
  • procedural accommodation through flexible work /educational schedules and alternate formats

Grants are available to help organizations make modifications to comply with regulations.


In Europe, 15 member states of the European Union have mandatory accessibility standards. In addition to this, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, and Sweden have provisions with exemptions for some existing buildings. Initiatives are underway for a comprehensive European Accessibility Act.


Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) spells out the requirement for equal access and opportunity. The Australian Human Rights Commission set forth guidelines to ensure accessibility.

The main take-away is that, when event planners are in the process of planning events at foreign destinations, it’s important to review of local requirements w.r.t. equal access for persons with disabilities.

For more information also read Are You in Violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act? Practical Considerations for Designing Accessible Corporate Events,  and  Impact of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act for Event Planners

Originally posted on Cvent by


Anne Thornley-Brown

Anne Thornley-Brown

Anne Thornley-Brown has an M.B.A. from York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto, Canada. She shaped the management development strategy for two major Canadian corporations. Anne has extensive business experience in a variety of industries including banking, wireless communications, high technology, transportation, the non-profit sector, and film and television. She speaks English, French, and Spanish. Anne has toured Asia 18 times and facilitated workshops and team building for over 2000 executives, managers and professionals. She has worked with a number of clients from Gulf (GCC) countries in the Middle East.

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