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Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings, Events and Conference HOME image

This resource is a project of the
Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services

Commentary and Credits

This website is a project of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Oklahoma Works initiative in fulfillment of a contract received by Oklahoma ABLE Tech. All three of these entities partner to provide information to people with disabilities to make their lives better and more productive. As part of on-going education goals and to promote gatherings that address the needs of people with disabilities, we offer this website focusing on planning and conducting meetings, conferences and events that are accessible.

A huge debt of gratitude goes to Mid-Atlantic ADA Center who originally produced this content as A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings, and graciously is allowing us to copy, edit for our state's needs, and publish it here. To learn more about the project team responsible for this content, scroll to the bottom of this page.


Welcome to the updated, digital version of A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings, originally published by Independent Living Research Utilization in 1993, written by co­-authors June Isaacson Kailes and Darrell Jones. The Mid­-Atlantic ADA Center and TransCen, Inc. sponsored this update and publication in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the transformational Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. This version includes regulatory updates along with practical guidance from a host of meeting planning professionals, subject matter experts, and even June Kailes herself.

The contents of this guide were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR award number 90DP0007). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this guide do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

TransCen’s work represents the intersection of grassroots implementation and national policy and initiatives. Since 1996, it has supported the Mid­-Atlantic ADA Center, one of ten regional ADA Centers of the ADA National Network, funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

Our goal is that this guide will help make every meeting, event, and conference accessible. It is with great pleasure that we share this work, which will continue to be updated to best serve the needs of planners, and help ensure that all meeting participants are fully engaged and have equal opportunities to contribute to public discourse, learning, and advancement.

How to Use this Guide

This online guide is an update from a print publication issued in 1993. As a web resource, however, it becomes a living document that can be modified and updated as emerging practices become best practices, and as these practices fold into an ever­-widening circle of gatherings, like weddings, family reunions, and more.

Note that information may be repeated in various sections where it may be relevant. The navigation options on the left of the screen are "chapter" titles, and clicking the link will open both DUCductory text and additional subchapters with more information and resources.

Every effort has been made to ensure that links to other online resources are live and unbroken; staff at the Mid­-Atlantic ADA Center will continue to monitor the guide and appreciate hearing from you if broken links are found.

Finally, while the ADA is referenced often throughout this document and technical experts have reviewed content, this is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. Rather, the team presents here what is required under the law as understood by these subject matter experts, and promising practices to make YOUR event fully inclusive, a market advantage in today's competitive and ever-­expanding service economy. By ensuring that all participants have equal access, the world will truly be a richer place.

A Note About Language and Terms

"Disability advocates strive for equality, accessibility and acceptance, yet they are continually confronted by language which perpetuates negative stereotypes of who they are. People with disabilities, disability rights activists, service providers, health care providers, writers, reporters, editors, educators and supporters must become aware of the power of language. Are you perpetuating negative attitudes and false stereotypes of people with disabilities with your language?" ­ ~ Author June Kailes, 2010 publication, Language is More Than a Trivial Concern (opens in a new window).

Language evolves, often even faster than some of those who speak it. One might hear the phrase, "the disability community," and think that all people with disabilities use a common language to define themselves and one another, as well as the various accommodations that may be needed for access and inclusion. This is not the case! Often, even well­-intentioned and well­-informed individuals may fall behind the times and use language that is no longer considered current, respectful, and inclusive.

This guide is a living document, and its publishers will attempt to keep it up to date and amended over time. Defining some common terms, and discussing those terms which no longer should be used, is a way to help visitors to the site carry language into the marketplace. Of course, if you are visiting this site and come across terms that are objectionable or offensive to you as a reader, we hope you will share your perspectives so we may consider them for future updates to this guide.

About the Oklahoma Collaboration Team

As mentioned above, this website is a collaboration between three entities in Oklahoma. Brief descriptions on each follow:

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) expands opportunities for employment, independent life and economic self-sufficiency by helping Oklahomans with disabilities bridge barriers to success in the workplace, school and at home.

DRS is comprised of five program divisions, Vocational Rehabilitation, Visual Services, Disability Determination, Oklahoma School for the Blind and Oklahoma School for the Deaf. These divisions operate dozens of programs that help Oklahomans lead more independent and productive lives.

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Division: Employment services for people with any disability, except blindness.
  • Visual Services Division: Employment and independent living services for people who are blind, visually impaired.
  • Disability Determination Division: Determines medical eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Oklahoma School for the Deaf: Educational programs for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Oklahoma School for the Blind: Educational programs for children who are blind or visually impaired.

DRS also relies on Support Services to handle administrative functions. Support Services comprises of the Executive Division, Financial Services Division and Management Services Division.

Oklahoma DRS Project Team

Melinda Fruendt, Director, Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services
Melinda Fruendt has been recently appointed as the Director at the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. In her previous position as the Chief of Staff, she led the strategic planning for the agency, as well as, assisted in fulfilling the chief administrative and executive responsibilities to attain the agency mission. Melinda continues to develop and maintain relationships with lawmakers, other officials and partners, both federal and state, to assure the fulfillment of the agency’s mission.

She received her Master of Science and Bachelor of Science Degrees from Oklahoma State University. Melinda and her husband Paul, farm and ranch in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where they have a cow-calf and stocker operation, as well as diversified crops production.

Charles Watt, ADA Coordinator
Charles Watt is a Certified ADA Coordinator through the ADA Coordinator Training Certified Program (ACTCP). He serves as the ADA Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, where he has worked for 20 years. Charlie is a member of the National Network of ADA Trainers, the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center Leadership Network of Trainers, and the National Association of ADA Coordinators. He conducts training on various aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act and provides consultation on the ADA to any interested parties. He also reviews locations to identify any physical accessibility issues that may need to be corrected.

Oklahoma Works

Oklahoma Works is an initiative to increase the wealth of all Oklahomans through facilitating quality employment for workers and ready availability of highly skilled talent for business and industry. The initiative is a coalition of state agencies, educational institutions, businesses and other partners.

Oklahoma ABLE Tech

Oklahoma ABLE Tech received a contract through the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services to produce this site. Oklahoma ABLE Tech is the statewide Assistive Technology Act Program proudly located at Oklahoma State University in the Department of Wellness. ABLE Tech is funded through the Administration for Community Living of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and maintains coordination and collaboration efforts with partners throughout the State of Oklahoma. The funding provided helps enhance the opportunities for Oklahomans with disabilities to access and acquire needed assistive technology.

Oklahoma ABLE Tech Project Team

Linda Jaco, Associate Director for Sponsored Programs
Linda Jaco is the Associate Director for Sponsored Programs, Department of Wellness, Oklahoma State University. Linda has served on a number of national, state, and local task forces and boards related to disability and agricultural issues. Additionally, she has worked with many agencies, organizations, as well as non-profit entities making policy change and advocating for individuals with disability, substance abuse or agricultural concerns. She has been very active both at the state and national level working on legislative issues.

Rob Carr, Accessibility Coordinator
Rob Carr is the Accessibility Coordinator for Oklahoma ABLE Tech, Oklahoma’s Assistive Technology Act Program. Rob promotes and teaches inclusion through technology, programmatic activities, and structural access. Rob primarily works with public sector entities in Oklahoma and provides training and technical assistance in a number of different topic areas. Rob is a certified ADA Coordinator through  the ADA Coordinator Training  Certification Program and holds the International Association of Accessibility Professionals certification in Accessibility Core Competencies. Rob also teaches and speaks about technology accessibility at local and national conferences.

Collaborating Agencies: ABLE Tech, DRS and Oklahoma Works

Used with permission of Mid-Atlantic ADA Center which
holds the rights to all content.
Accessibility  |   Checklist (PDF)


Updated on 2019-01-07T13:03:14+00:00, by Kim O'Meilia.