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EDI Event Guide

Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) should be considered in all aspects of event planning and delivery; EDI does not necessarily only apply when hosting an event that touches on an EDI topic. The following guide is intended to provide accessibility and inclusivity factors that can be considered by anyone at the Telfer School of Management involved in planning events, public consultations, celebrations, and other occasions. Since the University of Ottawa is a French-English bilingual institution, event planners should also consider the event language.

Refer to the University of Ottawa Accessibility Hub Training section on client services, event planning, and meetings for a full list of resources and tips.


Check whether you are hosting your event on a day or during a time period that is considered religious, cultural, commemorative, observant, or significant. Consider another date or time if the event conflicts with an important date (as described above) since it may be seen as inconsiderate and may also affect attendance. If the date is firm, consider highlighting the date in the speaker’s notes to acknowledge it as a sign of respect, or incorporate a related element into your event.

Examples of ways to incorporate an element into your event to recognize a key date or time period:

  • Ramadan: Provide take-out containers for participants to enjoy food at home later in the evening after fasting.
  • International Women’s Day: incorporate female-focused questions in your panel discussion.
  • Earth Day: dim the lights for your event and have a zero-plastic rule for catering and explain why you are doing so.

Here is a list of important and commemorative days taken from the Government of Canada’s website. 


Choose a time during the day or evening that accommodates as many attendees as possible.

  • Time Zones: If applicable, pick a time that is suitable for multiple time zones, such as in the case of live online events open to multiple regions. 
  • Conflicts: Identify your key demographic and accommodate attendees where possible. For example: if you are planning an event for students and professors, avoid hosting your event during popular class times. Consider that attendees who may have young children may need to pick them up or drop them off.


  • Accessibility: Choose a venue that accommodates persons using wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility devices, persons with auditory or visual disabilities, persons with service dogs, etc. Check on the availability of elevators, escalators, and ramps. Refer to the Planning Accessible Conferences Manual, published by the Council of Ontario Universities, for more details when considering a venue.
  • Neutrality: Choose a space that is neutral in nature for all participants (i.e., avoid religious institutions when possible).
  • Parking and Transportation: Choose a venue that is accessible by public transportation (i.e., ParaTranspo), and/or that offers sufficient accessible parking to accommodate as many people as possible. Ensure that routes between the venue and parking lots or transit stops, including sidewalks, hallways, and entryways, are accessible.
  • Format: If applicable, consider a space that can accommodate hybrid programming (i.e., both online and in person) to accommodate those who cannot travel to the event. An event that can be bilingual, or offered once in English and once in French, also allows more individuals to attend.
  • Comfort: Estimate the number of potential attendees to help calculate space requirements. A space that is too small can lead to crowding, limited movement, or hazards.
  • Catering: Consider food allergies and preferences (vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian options, gluten intolerance, etc.). If there is a bar at your event, offer an equally attractive non-alcoholic option for those who don’t drink alcohol by choice or because of their beliefs or religion.

Event Promotion

  • Ensure that the language and visual components used to promote your event are inclusive.
  • Offer auditory or visual accommodations, such as a sign language or an ASL interpreter, and/or live subtitles for events (in both French and English).
  • Refer to uOttawa’s Human Rights Office website for accessibility standards for websites, social media, videos, and other online content. This includes information on descriptive text, how to display content, and more.
  • Provide communications in both English and French. For example: if video materials are being used before, during, or after an event, or will be posted online, add captions in both English and French to maintain bilingualism.
  • Use inclusive language in promotional materials:
    • Refer to the University of Ottawa’s Policy 20; the mandatory guidelines to avoid gender parity in university text as well as this Writing Guide created by the university’s Language Services team to make your material as inclusive as possible. You can also consult their team for help with this or have the documents professionally edited and translated.
    • Refer to Employment and Social Development Canada’s website for examples of the use of inclusive language. Some considerations include:
      • Including alt text on digital images and graphics.
      • Including braille in communication materials.
      • Providing English and French communications.
  • Include clear information on how to get to the event, ideally including both a map and text instructions, and include accessible pathways.


  • When sending electronic communications, include a text-only invitation that is compatible with screen readers for visually impaired persons.
  • Minimize the use of motion graphics and of bright or flashy colours in the invitation.

Registration page or form

Consider adding these mandatory fields:

  • Name (including a space for preferred name if legal names are required)
  • Food allergies, intolerances, and preferences (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or pescatarian options)
  • Accessibility requirements (audio, visual or physical needs)
  • Language preference (English or French)

Consider adding these optional fields:

  • Ask for preferred pronouns (English and/or French) to use on printed nametags or stickers (i.e., he/she/they/elle/elles/
    il/ils/ze/prefer not to say)

  • Cultural Practices: Consider cultural practices when offering gifts to speakers or attendees (i.e., gifting tobacco, smudging for Indigenous speakers). Refer to the Mashkawazìwogamig Indigenous Resource Centre.) 
  • Indigenous Affirmation: Ensure that the host or speaker reads the Indigenous affirmation stated at all University of Ottawa events. The dean of the Telfer School of Management also likes to add the following lines at the end of the affirmation: 
    “We encourage all members of the Telfer community to take every opportunity possible to learn about Indigenous cultures, to use this sacred knowledge in re-evaluating our relationships with the world around us, and to continue moving forward through life with a commitment to furthering Truth and Reconciliation.” 
  • Speaker Diversity: Have a diverse and experienced panel to represent different origins, genders, experiences (international or Canadian student experience), races, and languages.
  • Bilingual Moderator: Provide a moderator to address speaker questions and audience responses in English and/or French during an audience question and answer (Q&A) period and translate the questions as needed. 
  • Programming: Make materials for the event available in alternate formats, such as in electronic versions as well as hard copy and provide copies (including PowerPoint slides) in advance of the event upon request. 
  • Stage or Podiums: Ensure that the stage, speaker’s podium, and microphone height are accessible for persons with mobility aids.
  • Outdoor Events: If the event is being held outdoors, ensure that the site is accessible for persons with mobility aids and provide areas of protection from exposure (snow, sun, rain, wind, etc.) 
  • Washrooms: Ensure washroom locations are clearly indicated and are accessible for all persons, including for an outdoor event. Consider offering universal washrooms. 
  • Signage: Provide clear signage in both languages at appropriate locations, such as nearby transit points, parking areas, directional signs, and event posters.

  • Attendee Survey: If you are sending a survey following the event, include questions about the event’s inclusion and accessibility. Responses to the survey should remain anonymous.  

    Consider adding these questions: 
    • Participation: “I felt comfortable participating in this event.” (Yes, No, Not applicable), followed by an open-ended question, i.e., “Why or why not?”
    • Accessibility accommodations: “My physical accessibility needs were met during the event.” (Yes, No, Not applicable), followed by an open-ended question i.e., “Why or why not?”
    • Diversity: “The event included a diversity of thought and perspectives.” (Use a scaled evaluation format i.e., Likert scale)
    • EDI content: “The event provided an opportunity to consider and/or highlight diversity, equity, and inclusion.” (when applicable)
    • Open-ended section for any additional comments about how to improve the event or make the event more inclusive in the future.
  • Organizer Debrief: Feedback and lessons learned should be included in a debrief document, shared with all stakeholders, and incorporated into future event planning.
  • Content Sharing: Consider sharing slides and/or a recording (with subtitles) with those who were unable to attend or wish to re-watch the event.



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