Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre collaboration to deliver more accessible events

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Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has announced new collaborations and initiatives to help event organisers deliver more accessible, inclusive and welcoming events.

The Australian Disability Network IMPACT Conference held last week featured accessible technology, Auslan interpreters, sensory rooms and accommodations for assistance animals, ensuring an inclusive experience for all participants.

The catering options included tray service as well as table service, with a wide range of menu selections available at every station. For presenters with mobility needs, ramps leading up to the stages equipped with handles on each side allowed easy access.

Travellers Aid, a recent addition to MCEC’s Positive Impact Guide, operated a buggy service for attendees with mobility needs, ensuring everyone could easily travel to and from the conference without barriers.

“We’re proud to work closely with event organisers and collaborate with leading accessibility service providers like Travellers Aid to improve inclusivity and support delegates to meaningfully participate and engage in events at MCEC,” said Rohan Astley, MCEC’s Head of Advocacy, Impact and Reputation.

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Travellers Aid CEO Elias Lebbos said its partnership with MCEC reinforces a shared commitment to accessible and inclusive events.

MCEC is also collaborating with Travellers Aid at the upcoming Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Conference, hosted by the Victorian Tourism Industry Council in August, to provide a buggy service, motorised wheelchairs and personal care support for attendees.

In addition, this week MCEC is also hosting the International Society for Autism Research Annual Meeting secured by the Melbourne Convention Bureau. MCEC is fostering an accessible and inclusive environment for delegates to connect, especially for autistic people, with about one in 10 conference attendees identifying as autistic.

To reduce sensory overload, stage lighting for keynote speakers has been adjusted, meeting rooms have been furnished with all black chairs and hand dryers in the bathrooms have been switched off to minimise noise.

There is enough room for attendees to stand and walk at the back of the rooms without disrupting the session. A low sensory space is available, offering a quiet and comfortable environment for attendees to take a break and relax. A designated networking space for autistic researchers is also provided, allowing for more comfortable and inclusive interactions.

MCEC team members also participated in an education workshop prior to the event to understand how they can best support autistic attendees and ensure a positive experience for all.

“Through our Positive Impact Guide, we aim to provide event organisers with tangible resources to deliver more accessible events, providing a welcoming environment for all attendees,” Rohan said.