Accessibility Planning Guide: A Step-by-step Approach for Planning Your Accessibility

The Iowa Arts Council offers this guide as a step toward insuring access to the arts for people with disabilities. It is our goal to increase and enhance opportunities for participation by persons with disabilities in both our programs and services, as well as the projects supported through grants.

In addition to compliance issues, access benefits the greater population as well as those with disabilities. Many people experience temporary disability, and most experience the natural process of aging. Further, what is an accommodation for one person may be a convenience for another. One need not be identified as having a disability in order to use accommodating tools, devices, or resources that allow them to participate more fully.

Access should be integrated into all activities of an organization. Since all organizations are legally required to serve staff, visitors, and others with disabilities, they also must be committed to providing those accommodations which are reasonable and necessary.

The following self-questionnaires may serve as partial documentation of your "good faith" efforts to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), should grievances arise. They are intended to help your organization become more aware of barriers to your program's services and facilities for persons with disabilities. They are the first step in developing your Accessibility Plan.

How to use this planning guide

This guide may be used as a tool for identifying accessibility needs. It can also serve as a planning guide to meet the needs of larger arts organizations. If you are a smaller organization or an informal arts group, this guide can still be a resource for you. Although some of the information may not apply to you today, it may in the future as your organization grows.

The guide offers a step-by-step approach to planning your accessibility and includes:

Accessibility Planning Process

Your organization can begin taking the steps to meet the accessibility needs of people with disabilities in your community. These steps will also help you plan to address issues related to the ADA. The following are the five basic steps your organization can take to begin meeting your accessibility needs.

1. Identify an accessibility coordinator who will

2. Appoint a group of advisors

3. Conduct an accessibility audit

4. Develop policy for your organization that

5. Develop an accessibility plan to resolve the access issues identified in your audit:

Conducting an Accessibility Audit of Your Organization's Policies

Do you have a board of directors' policy or recommendations in place regarding accessibility?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have a nondiscrimination policy in place?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you include accessibility issues in your long-range plans?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have an accessibility task force that includes volunteers with disabilities?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have a staff person with an approved job description in place who is specifically assigned to implement accessibility programs?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you provide training for your staff in disability awareness as well as programs and services to constituents with disabilities?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have volunteers or staff trained to give tours with individuals and/or groups who are disabled?
Yes        No        N/A

Conducting an Accessibility Audit of Your Programs and Services

Outreach

Do you market to communities of disabled persons?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you include on your press list the newsletters of organizations for people with disabilities?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you include accessibility symbols in your materials?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you offer and advertise discounted tickets for patrons who are disabled?
Yes        No        N/A

Are there signs in our reception area indicating the availability of materials in alternative formats?
Yes        No        N/A

If you offer programs or services at off-site facilities, do you include retirement centers or disability-related organizations or schools?
Yes        No        N/A

Publications

Do you publish information describing your services for constituents who are disabled?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have a procedure for making printed materials available in alternative formats?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you include information about accessibility programs and publications in your usual publications?
Yes        No        N/A

Transportation

Is your facility on a public bus route?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you help coordinate shuttle service to accessible bus sites?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you use a transportation service to get constituents your facility or event?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you solicit volunteers to provide transportation for constituents?
Yes        No        N/A

Is there room for ADA loading and unloading at your facility?
Yes        No        N/A

Are your facility's van and transportation sites safe at night?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have van sites?
Yes        No        N/A

Is there long-term parking for ADA vehicles near the entrances to your facility?
Yes        No        N/A

Personal Assistance

Are your personnel trained to deal appropriately with people with disabilities, particularly on issues of safety?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have a policy and procedure for safely evacuating persons with disabilities in an emergency?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have an admissions policy for support people accompanying persons with disabilities?
Yes        No        N/A

Do ushers use flashlights to illuminate the floor when guiding people to their seats?
Yes        No        N/A

Is there adequate lighting for reading a program?
Yes        No        N/A

Program/Visual Arts

Do you offer live or taped descriptive tours of exhibits?
Yes        No        N/A

Are exhibit labels in high contrast, Braille or large print for the visually impaired?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you offer sign-interpreted tours?
Yes        No        N/A

Are aisles between exhibits at least 36" wide to accommodate wheelchairs?
Yes        No        N/A

Is the floor surface safe for wheel- chair users and the visually impaired?
Yes        No        N/A

Are transparent cases raised from the floor to accommodate wheelchairs?
Yes        No        N/A

Are transparent cases low enough for wheelchair viewing?
Yes        No        N/A

Are wall-hung exhibits safe for viewers with canes or guide dogs?
Yes        No        N/A

Are exhibit labels placed horizontally on the outside of cases and 48-67" above the floor?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you encourage visual artists with disabilities to present work in your facilities?
Yes        No        N/A

Program/Performing Arts: Hearing-Impaired

Do you offer advance copies of scripts or synopses to people with hearing impairments?
Yes        No        N/A

Are assistive listening devices available for some performances of each production?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you offer sign language interpretation for some performances of each production?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have a location for the sign interpreter so that hearing-impaired patrons can see the performance as well as the interpreter?
Yes        No        N/A

Program/Performing Arts: Vision-Impaired

Do you offer audio-described performances?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you offer Braille or audio-taped versions of your printed programs?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you include information about your accessibility programs in your routine publications and promotional materials?
Yes        No        N/A

Conducting an Accessibility Audit of Your Facility

Parking and drop-off areas

Do you have the appropriate number of parking spaces marked with the inter- national symbol of accessibility?
Yes        No        N/A

Are your accessible spaces wide enough? (13' for a car and 16' for a van)
Yes        No        N/A

Is the designated accessible parking space the closest to the accessible entrance?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have an accessible route or pathway from the parking lot to the entrance?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have a covered passenger loading and unloading zone?
Yes        No        N/A

If you only have on-street parking, is there an unobstructed curb cut wide enough for a wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Is someone assigned responsibility for keeping accessible routes free from ice and snow?
Yes        No        N/A

Entrance

Is your accessible entrance identified with the international accessibility symbol?
Yes        No        N/A

Are the sidewalks to your entrance wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair? (at least 36")
Yes        No        N/A

Are there any stairs between the handicap parking and the accessible entrance?
Yes        No        N/A

Are there railings at each set of steps?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have a non-slip ramp in addition to steps?
Yes        No        N/A

Is the door at least 36" wide?
Yes        No        N/A

Is the threshold at the door 1" or less to accommodate a wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Can the door be opened easily with one hand, with a closed fist, or by a person with limited grasp or strength?
Yes        No        N/A

Does the door open out?
Yes        No        N/A

Does the door close slowly?
Yes        No        N/A

Box Office/Registration Area

Is the counter of your information desk 36" or lower to accommodate a person in a wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Is the aisle in front of your registration/ticketing are at least 60" wide to accommodate a turning wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Is the floor surface stable, clean, firm and slip-resistant?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have a public telephone available in the box office/ reception area?
Yes        No        N/A

Is your box office equipped with TDD/text-telephone or a relay service in order to receive calls from hearing-impaired customers?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have a procedure for training staff and volunteers in the use of your TDD/TTY or relay service?
Yes        No        N/A

Program Space

Do patrons using wheelchairs have access to at least one of your performances?
Yes        No        N/A

Can patrons using wheelchairs enter the space through the same entry used by the general public?
Yes        No        N/A

Can your venue accommodate a person using a wheelchair who is also deaf or hard of hearing and needs to be close to a sign interpreter?
Yes        No        N/A

Is wheelchair seating integrated within the general audience seating area?
Yes        No        N/A

Does the venue offer a choice of accessible seating areas?
Yes        No        N/A

Do accessible seat locations allow non-disabled attendants/companions to be seated next to the patron who is disabled?
Yes        No        N/A

Do accessible seats have a space for guide dogs?
Yes        No        N/A

Restrooms

Is there appropriate signage to indicate accessible restrooms?
Yes        No        N/A

Are restrooms accessible to the public, from the office and from the backstage?
Yes        No        N/A

Are door openings at least 36" wide?
Yes        No        N/A

Is the unobstructed diameter of the restroom floor space at least 60" to accommodate a turning wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Is there a designated handicap stall that meets the legal code?
Yes        No        N/A

Are the faucets, soap dispenser and towels accessible for a person in a wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Can faucets be turned by a person with a limited grasp or strength?
Yes        No        N/A

Are exposed pipes below the sink covered with insulation?
Yes        No        N/A

Drinking Fountains

Do any wall-mounted objects such as drinking fountains, fire extinguishers and displays present a safety hazard?
Yes        No        N/A

Interior Levels

Are all levels and doors of your facility accessible to people with mobility limitations?
Yes        No        N/A

If you provide a public elevator or lift, is it equipped with Braille on control panels and with floor numbers outside the door and on the door jams?
Yes        No        N/A

Are elevator call buttons accessible from a wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Does the elevator door close slowly?
Yes        No        N/A

Safety

Are fire alarms equipped with visual warning lights and mounted 80" above the floor?
Yes        No        N/A

Is there an identified refuge/ holding area for people with disabilities to wait for rescue?
Yes        No        N/A

Do you have an evacuation plan for people with disabilities?
Yes        No        N/A

Food Service

Is food service (cafeteria, restaurant, vending machines) available within this facility for the public?
Yes        No        N/A

If yes, are tables and tray counters 36" or lower to accommodate a a wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Stages and Dressing Rooms

Is the backstage area accessible?
Yes        No        N/A

Does your facility provide accessible dressing rooms for performers?
Yes        No        N/A

Is there an unobstructed route from the stage or performing area to the dressing area?
Yes        No        N/A

Are the spaces wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Is there open knee space under the dressing table?
Yes        No        N/A

Are makeup mirrors adjustable?
Yes        No        N/A

Are lighting switches and electric receptacles accessible for a person in a wheelchair?
Yes        No        N/A

Developing Your Accessibility Plan

After you have finished the accessibility audit of your facility, it will become the foundation for your accessibility planning. Your board of directors and accessibility advisors must now develop a logical, realistic Accessibility Plan to implement improvements and help your organization achieve its accessibility goals.

Next Steps

Use the Accessibility Plan Outline below to identify issues you need to address. This will guide you in determining what modifications you need to make to your organizational policies, your programs and services, as well as your facility.

1. Prioritize needed modifications into:

2. Prepare an accessibility plan for review and adoption by your board of directors.

3. Make accessibility part of your project and organizational planning.

Suggestion: Disabled individuals and/or organizations that represent disabled individuals should be included in your survey process.

Accessibility Plan Outline

Organization:

Accessibility Plan for: ___ /___/___ through ___/___/___

Accessibility Policy Statement:

Issues or areas of concern identified in your audit:

For each issue or area below identify

a) Policies

b) Programs

c) Facilities

d) Implementations Issues

e) Other Areas of Concern

Date of This Survey: ____/____/____

Surveyors:

Board Approval: ___/___/___

Next Scheduled Review Date: ____/____/___