Make Your Graduation Ceremony More Accessible

graduate using wheelchair

graduate using wheelchair

Incorporating accessible design standards into your upcoming graduation ceremony not only helps those that need accommodations, it also makes your ceremony more accessible and enjoyable for all.

Here are a few ways you can make your next ceremony more accessible for everyone:

Choosing A Venue

When choosing a venue, make sure your facility is fully compliant with the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Consult ADA guidelines and work with the facility’s management team to identify areas where accommodations may need to be made for your graduates and their guests.

Accessible Parking

Follow ADA guidelines for accessible parking at your venue:

  • Offer the appropriate ratio of accessible parking spaces
  • Clearly post visible signs designating accessible parking spaces
  • Have a clear, safe path from the parking area to graduate check-in, guest entry and restrooms
  • Make sure those paths are clearly marked and signed

For more information on venue and parking requirements (as well as other helpful tips), download this checklist by Equip for Equality, an organization that works to advance the rights of people with disabilities in Illinois.

Graduate Stage Access

As you plan the flow of graduates into the facility, across the stage to collect their diplomas and back to their seats, consider what physical accommodations graduates may need. ADA compliant lifts and/or ramps, from the venue floor to the elevated stage, allow graduates to safely enter the stage, receive their diploma and then leave the stage. Ramps not only help those that need accommodations, but also make it easier for all graduates to reach the stage and reduce the risk of tripping on stairs.


Guest Access & Seating

Designate seating for those with mobility issues and make viewing areas available for those who use wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility equipment.

ADA Standards for Accessible Design provides more information on specific guidelines for seating and assembly area.

Ceremony Broadcast & Messaging

Communicating your ceremony both verbally and visually not only makes your event accessible for those that need accommodations, it also allows your audience to enjoy your ceremony through the format that they prefer.

  • Broadcast your ceremony live with both video and audio on streaming platforms, allowing people who are not able to attend in person to watch and listen to the ceremony virtually
  • Have a sign language interpreter present to communicate the ceremony and dedicate a portion of the venue video screens to the interpreter, so they can be seen throughout the venue
  • Close caption ceremony remarks and display graduates’ names and honors on the venue video screens as they receive their diplomas
  • Use large, easy to read fonts on video display screens

Contact us to learn how our school-branded ceremony display solutions can display customized information, such as name, hometown, degree and honors, for each of your graduates as they cross the stage.

Adobe’s blog, “Video accessibility guide for content creators and viewers,” provides more guidance on accessible video design and best practices.

Graduate & Guest Communications

Informing graduates and guests of venue accommodations prior to the ceremony will allow them to plan ahead. Use your registration form to request information from graduates and their guests about their accommodation needs. Prior to the ceremony, send information to them about accessing your venue, including maps and directions, showing the location of accessible parking areas and routes from the parking to the seating areas.

Our solutions can help you collect graduate and guest accommodation information and email venue information to attendees before your ceremony.

Staff Training

Training your staff on accommodations before your ceremony will avoid confusion and help your ceremony run smoothly. Prepare your team by holding a meeting prior to the ceremony to address these topics:

  • Designate a team member to oversee ADA compliance
  • Train your team on ADA standards for your ceremony and venue. Then ensure that they can relay that information to guests.
  • Review accommodation requests and prepare for graduates/guests with specific needs
  • Determine how your team will assist any guests that require accommodations who did not provide advanced notice
  • During your practice run, identify and remedy any potential issues that could limit access to, or create a need for, accommodations

By following these tips, your graduation ceremony will be more accessible, inclusive and more enjoyable for everyone.


Additional Resources:

ADA Requirements – Effective Communication

Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA

Adobe video accessibility guide for content creators and viewers

Equip for Equality – Checklist for Creating Accessible Graduation Ceremonies