Exhibition shows have not generated much controversy over accessibility, but exhibition shows remains one of the largely inaccessible events in America and it must stop. Exhibition shows must be inclusive.
Exhibition shows can be organized by a company, it can also be community-based. Although there are few disability-friendly exhibition shows, research has revealed that most of the disability-friendly exhibition are disability focused. Does it mean people with disabilities are generally excluded from participating in exhibition shows? To a large extent, lack of access will keep people with disabilities away from exhibition shows if organizers fail to provide fundamental assistive aids and if the exhibition venue is inaccessible.
Exhibition shows must be accessible, organizers must take steps to accommodate people with disabilities. The America Libraries Association exhibition show is regarded as the most accessible exhibition show in America.
According to exhibition director for America Libraries Association (ALA) Paul Graller, the organization “really stepped up” the accommodation it provides “for any ALA exhibition” in 2013 after receiving “comments about its lack of accessibility." Not only does the ALA have an accessibility task force but for the past six years, the Chicago Hearing Society’s executive director has contracted with it to manage exhibition show venue and maintain an accessibility hotline and dedicated email account year-round.
For years at ALA exhibition shows, there has been plenty of accessible seating in the exhibit areas and post offices. ASL interpreters and escorts for the blind have been on hand, and major presentations have had both interpreters and closed captioning. Sixty motorized wheelchairs have been made available at each event, and accessible shuttle buses have been provided. There have been wheelchair areas in every meeting room and ballroom, and there have been signage informing attendees of this. Exhibitors have even been educated beforehand about making their booths accessible.
“With the aging population of the ALA, more people need accessibility, and that’s just going to increase as our numbers increase,” Graller said.
Image credit: Photo by Author