To celebrate the International Day of People with Disabilities 2023 (IDPWD) the disAbility Legal Network is delighted to launch its Accessible Events Guide.

We have prepared the Accessible Events Guide to assist event teams in the legal sector to plan and host events that are inclusive and accessible. The Accessible Events Guide has been prepared in line with best practice and draws from the experience of the network’s Steering Committee in running events that strive to be as accessible as possible.

Two key goals of the disAbility Legal Network are:

(1) promotion of disability inclusion in the legal sector; and

(2) giving members an opportunity to build their professional networks.

Advancement of the standard of accessibility of conferences and events within the sector is for us an important step in working towards these goals.

Over the last two years since the Network’s inception, we are delighted to have hosted events in collaboration with the following law firms: William Fry LLP, Matheson LLP, A&L Goodbody LLP, Mason Hayes & Curran LLP, & McCann Fitzgerald LLP . The Committee has learned a great deal working with these firms in hosting events over the last two years. The Accessible Events Guide is a consolidation of those learnings and a way to share those lessons with the rest of the legal sector.

Jane Barrett, Associate William Fry LLP & Founder/Chairperson of the Committee said “We appreciate it will not be feasible to fulfil every aspect of the Accessible Events Guide for all events but we hope to show event organisers how to re-frame their event planning with accessibility in mind. We hope that in time asking those registered for an event in advance about any accessibility needs will become as accepted and common a practice for legal events as asking them about dietary requirements”.

Jane also added: “My own personal challenge with attending events is the use of standing only spaces for networking before and/or after the event. It takes a toll on my body to stand for long periods. I really hope the guide prompts some event organisers in the legal sector to re-think the standard standing only networking space”

Caoimhe Grogan, Solicitor at A&L Goodbody LLP & Vice-Chairperson of the Committee said “We urge event organisers in the sector to think about accessibility when organising events. Attendance at events is important for professional development and building business networks for those working in law. We firmly believe that improving the accessibility of events in our sector will support career advancement for people with disabilities in law.

Caoimhe also added “Sometimes professional events can be extremely busy and overwhelming for myself as someone with a visual impairment and for my guide dog, especially since Covid-19 as we are seeing a return to larger events where the focus seems to be on packing as many people as possible into the room! At every single event/ presentation I attend, there is without fail a visual aspect to the presentation which is not explained for my benefit or others who may have a visual impairment. If I am lucky, a colleague will quietly provide a visual description of what is happening. However, I am often left feeling a bit excluded! It is such a small change to provide a description of visual information when you know someone with a visual impairment is in the room, and I really hope that is a takeaway from these guidelines. Also, people often forget to introduce themselves by name, forgetting that I cannot see the name tag! There is also some really helpful information around the provision of Irish Sign Language (ISL) Interpreters in the Accessible Events Guide which I also think is so important.”

The Committee would like to thank Sofiya Kalinova B.L. for consulting and inputting to the guide.

Read the Accessible Events Guide here

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