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Budgeting For Access

When planning events—meetings, conferences, roundtables, seminars, etc.—there are accommodations necessary to ensure that attendees with disabilities and Deaf attendees have complete access to the venue and the event’s presentations and materials. Although many modifications and accommodations have little-to-no cost, some accommodations do. This tip sheet is designed to provide you with information and cost estimates so you can incorporate those considerations into funding proposals and budgets for your event. Including accurate estimates for common meeting expenses and specific disability accommodation line items in your budget is essential to meeting your obligations and creating a welcoming environment for attendees with disabilities and Deaf attendees.  

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  • Estimating Venue-Specific Expenses 

    Budgeting for an accessible event will include line items that exist in the budgets of most events, such as room rentals and audio-visual aids, but certain costs will need to be calculated differently. For all of the items and accommodations listed below, check prices with your venue in advance. 

  • Audio-Visual Aids

    Presenters and their presentations need to be easily seen and heard to ensure that all attendees have the same access to the information being shared.

    Microphones ensure that everyone, especially people who are hard of hearing and may be using assistive listening devices, can hear the information presented at your event. In addition, microphones ensure that American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters can dedicate their full attention to interpretation without straining to hear. The number of microphones needed for your event depends on the size of the room and the format of the event. At a minimum, you should budget for one to be used by the speakers and one to be used by audience members if there will be discussion or questions and answers. While the costs of microphones vary considerably from venue to venue, the average cost per wireless microphone varies from $150 to $300. In addition, if using microphones, you will incur additional expenses for a sound system (the costs of which can vary widely depending on the amount of equipment needed and the quality of equipment used) and, possibly, tech support.

    Tripod screens are commonly used at events to show PowerPoint presentations, videos, or broadcasts of the event. Multiple screens may be needed to ensure that all attendees—especially those using wheelchairs who may have limited mobility and Deaf and hard of hearing attendees who rely heavily on sight—have a clear line of sight. These screens can cost anywhere from $150 per day for a 5’ X 5’ screen (not including a projector) to $1,350 per day for a 7.5’ X 10’ screen (including projector).

    Pipe and drape background—a typically solid colored fabric used to create a backdrop to a stage—should be considered if a significant portion of your event is occurring on a stage with extremely busy walls behind it (i.e., patterned or decorated with bright colors). Busy walls can be distractions for Deaf individuals and can cause eyestrain. Average cost for draping is $165 per panel, but the cost is heavily dependent on the venue and will vary depending upon how many panels you need.   

  • Service animals need a designated relief area

    Service Animal Relief Area: Service animals assist people with a wide range of disabilities, including sensory and mobility limitations. Because you cannot ask participants if they will be traveling with a service animal, you need to proactively ensure that there is a designated service animal relief area on the venue’s property for every event. This can be a grassy area that exists already (in which case there should be no charge) or the venue may have to create a space (in which case you may incur a charge). You will need to work closely with the university to determine where the space will be. Additionally, you will need to advertise the location of the service animal relief area in your program and materials, and with appropriate signage. 

Various froms of Accessibility.

Budgeting for Individual Accommodations

Some of the most common individual accommodations include ASL interpreters, materials in electronic format, materials in large print, and CART,. Creating a standard set of accommodations that you always build into your event budgets will give you greater flexibility. For example, you may not always have requests for both CART and an interpreter at the same event, but setting these dollars aside gives you the ability to absorb unforeseen costs or reallocate that money to other requests or expenses as needed.

  • ASL Interpreters

    Qualified ASL interpreters provide translation between ASL and spoken English. ASL has its own grammar and sentence structure and is the primary language used by Deaf individuals. The average cost for an ASL interpreter is between $80 and $105 per hour, many services have a 2-hour minimum. For interpreting jobs that are more than 1 and half hours a minimum of two interpreters are required in a team-interpreting format.

  • Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs)

    Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) are individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing who have been certified as interpreters by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. CDIs may have specialized training in gesture, mime, props, drawings, and other tools. A CDI may be needed when an interpreter who is hearing does not meet a Deaf attendee’s communication needs. The average cost for a CDI is between $75 and $95 per hour.

  • Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART)

    Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) is the instantaneous, word-for-word translation of spoken language into text which is displayed in various forms. English text is produced with less than a two-second delay. An accommodation for a variety of disabilities, the CART writer transcribes what is heard into text that can displayed on a computer screen for an individual or on a larger display for the entire audience. The cost for CART service varies but on average CART typically charges by the minute and runs between $90 and $150 per hour.  

  • Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)

    Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) help individuals separate the sounds they want to hear from background noise and are available for personal and group use. Some ALDs are designed to be used with hearing aids or cochlear implants, while others are designed to be used alone.

    Personal ALDs have separate tone and volume controls and may be configured to work with more than one speaker. The most common devices are wired, like the Pocket Talker. Similar in purpose is the wireless—and more flexible—Personal Frequency Modulation System. Event organizers can purchase or rent these items if the individual does not own one him/herself. The purchase cost ranges from $200 to $800.

    Group ALDs are preferable when there are several people with hearing loss in a group. The primary advantage is that multiple people can benefit from these systems, though they are expensive and not as portable as single-user devices. Costs for group ALDs range from $500 to $1800 depending upon the number of receivers, headphones, etc.

  • Material in Alternate Formats

    Individuals who are blind or have low vision, people with cognitive disabilities, and others may need the material you are offering to be made available in alternate formats.

    Large Print is defined as print that is at least 16 points in size and is made available to accommodate people with low vision. Large print can be done inhouse by changing the font of the document being offered or it may be out-sourced, in which case the cost would vary. When creating documents in large print in-house, costs would include staff time and any special materials needed, for example, paper in larger than standard sizes. 

    If you receive a request for materials in large print, be sure to let the Disability Resource Center know so they can create menus and other materials in large print.

Additional Resources

U.S. Department of Justice > ADA Home Page > www.ada.gov 
Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act

ADA National Network > www.adata.org 
Information, Guidance, and Training on the ADA available through 10 Regional Centers

Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP) >www.ataporg.org 
Resource on and link to Assistive Technology Programs in Your State