Every event planner knows how important it is when event planning to consider inclusion at every event production. We make accommodations for our audience to be sure that each and every guest has an exemplary experience. While the Americans with Disabilities Act has been around for about 30 years, changes to the ADA about 10 years ago broadened the definition of “disabled” to include people with asthma and allergies.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), conditions that only show symptoms at certain times are now included, this includes allergies and asthma. It is the responsibility of public companies to provide full access to all programs, facilities, food and services to people with disabilities so that they can enjoy these places the same as those without disabilities.
How does this affect your event planning? It means that companies must make all necessary accommodations to include everyone and can only refuse to accommodate after considering all options and finding that acceptable changes place an undue burden on the company. The ADA is a federal civil rights law, providing people with disabilities the right to ask for changes to policies, conditions or practices that would put them at a disadvantage or leave them out.
Making the proper accommodations for someone with asthma and allergies includes avoiding triggers such as moldy carpets or stale smoke smell in conference rooms as well as providing food options for those with food allergies. Event professionals must take this into account to foster inclusion in all their events and prevent negative press or major disasters. There is an increase in people adhering to specific diets for a number of reasons, such as:
- More attendees choosing vegan or vegetarian meals
- An aging workforce and increase in chronic disease
- Rise in food allergies
- Religious dietary restrictions or requirements
- General desire to eat healthier
- International preferences in various worldwide locations
Food and beverage options should promote celebration, engagement and nutrition. Food intolerance and allergies can place obstacles on event planners that require flexibility and creativity. It is important to know your audience and make every possible accommodation to promote inclusion on all levels, including food and beverage choices. Understanding the basic needs of your guests can go a long way to hosting an inclusive and successful corporate event.
Consider including a questionnaire at registration that asks for specific needs such as:
- Food allergies
- Religious dietary restrictions
- Medical conditions
- Lifestyle preferences
Taking a little extra care to get to know your audience and their needs will go a long way to build trust, respect and a sense of inclusion.
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