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Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada


Inclusive event planning

Are you planning an event and want it to be inclusive?

This guide provides some key considerations to help ensure that your event is inclusive!

To have a successful event relies on having the “right” people in attendance and ensuring they are able to fully participate and contribute to the discussion. For instance, consider who has an interest or will be affected by the issues/topics to be discussed. One of the consequences of having a narrow representation is that only the interests of some people are addressed, without taking into consideration the ideas, knowledge, and experience of groups of people who may be impacted by the decisions at hand. Given the amount of time, effort and resources spent on planning an event, why not take an inclusive approach to ensure that every person can participate?

As an organizer, a facilitator or a presenter, keep in mind that groups of people are not homogenous, and can face a variety of barriers as a result of their multiple identity factors, some of which may not be visible.

This job aid is not exhaustive. This tool is meant to be a guide that can be adapted to meet the needs of your organization and event.

Don’t forget to undertake a Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) throughout the event planning process and not just at the starting point. GBA Plus is an analytical tool and process developed by the Government of Canada. It is used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA Plus acknowledges that GBA goes beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences.

For additional resources, see Employment and Social Development Canada’s Guide for Planning Inclusive Meetings, the Department for Women and Gender Equality’s Introduction to GBA Plus online course and Demystifying GBA Plus Job Aid.

Figure 1: Intersectionlity

Intersectionality image illustrating some of the identity factors considered in GBA Plus
Figure 1: Intersectionality - Text version

This figure illustrates some of the factors which can intersect with sex and gender. Six oblong shapes of differing colors overlap and fan out. Each oblong has two identity factors written on it. The top oblong has “sex and gender” written in a larger font. Starting below sex and gender and going clockwise, the additional identities identified are: geography, culture, income, sexual orientation, education, race, ethnicity, religion, age, and disability.

Tips for planning an inclusive event

Key considerations for planning an inclusive event

Learning outcomes


Target audience(s)

Organizational challenges/limitations

Event format and design

Internal collaborators/external collaborators

Budget for inclusiveness



Event delivery and facilitators/presenters


Monitoring and evaluation

Additional key considerations when planning an inclusive event in the Canadian context

Event design

Official languages

Indigenous inclusion

Inclusivity checklist for event planners

Pre-event Planning
  • Registration form sent to participants confirming accommodation needs
  • Ensure fees for all advisors (ASL interpreters, attendants) are included in the budget
  • Provide honoraria beforehand (if applicable)
  • List of participants with evacuation needs provided to facility manager
  • Request that participants identify specific evacuation needs
  • Request that participants respect scent-free environment
  • Provide participants with release forms seeking permission to be photographed or video recorded
  • Share logistical information well in advance
  • Reserve and provide time for training volunteers (for example, sensitivity training)
  • Offer travel compensation
  • Have volunteers available to assist participants at the meeting
  • Designate volunteers to specific tasks (for example, to read for attendees as needed)
  • Ensure that volunteers are identifiable with the use of name tags
  • Designated person to help evacuate participants with specific needs
Location preparation
  • Identify accessible telephones and accessible restrooms
  • Ensure directional signage for floor numbers and parking
Distributable materials
  • Provide agendas and bios ahead of time
  • Create plain language material; allow several weeks for converting printed material to alternative formats or plain language
  • Have material available in alternative formats
  • Ensure all information is accessible
  • Ensure that emergency preparedness is included in written materials
  • Ensure that web content conforms to WCAG 2.0 guidelines
  • Troubleshoot potential issues ahead of time and develop solutions
  • Provide alternative formats for print materials
  • Employ note-taker services
  • Engage Sign language interpretation (both ASL and LSQ or simultaneous translation)
  • Provide adaptive technologies, including assistive listening devices
  • Consider dietary requirements and restrictions (for example, Halal, Kosher, gluten)
  • Notify participants of location and available accommodations in advance so they can arrange for accessible transportation, attendant services and other personalized services
  • Provide presenters and organizers with reference sheets advising them what is required to ensure accessible communication
  • Prepare agenda with adequate meal breaks and health breaks and allow time for longer break periods for those with guide dogs or those with intellectual and learning disabilities
  • Accessible public transportation available with schedules that work with planned meeting time
  • Facility entrance equipped with automatic door and sufficient room to manoeuvre all sizes of mobility aids
  • Accessible parking available close to facility
  • Accessibility features are operational (for example, doors, platform lifts)
  • Floor surfaces are slip-resistant
  • Tactile signage (raised pictograms, lettering and dome Braille)
  • Volunteers in place and assigned to greet and direct participants if signage is not available
  • Accessible restrooms (for example, cubicle with accessible grab bar)
  • Gender neutral and gender specific restrooms
  • Hearing aid-compatible public telephones, with volume controls
  • Reserve seating to accommodate participants not wanting be captured on camera so that they are not in the view of the camera(s). Participants could also be identified by wearing colour-coded badges
  • Available space to accommodate a translation booth and captioning equipment
  • Reserved seating for people who use wheelchairs and motorized scooters or who are accompanied by guide/service dogs
  • Space for sign language interpreters and/or simultaneous interpreters
  • Seating near the interpreters/captionists/note takers reserved for people who are hard of hearing
  • Prayer space

What is GBA Plus?

GBA Plus (Gender-based Analysis Plus) is an analytical tool and process developed by the Government of Canada that is used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. The “plus” in GBA Plus acknowledges that GBA is about more than biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences. We all have multiple identity factors that intersect and influence who we are; GBA Plus also provides a framework and work method to consider inequalities based on personal attributes like race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.

GBA Plus and gender equality

In 1995, the Government of Canada committed to using GBA Plus to advance gender equality in Canada, as part of the ratification of the United Nations’ Beijing Platform for Action.

Gender equality is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Constitution of Canada. Gender equality means that diverse groups of women, men and gender diverse people are able to participate fully in all spheres of Canadian life, contributing to an inclusive and democratic society.

We often assume that our work or our policies apply to everyone equally and there are no gender or diversity issues to consider. GBA Plus helps us recognize and move beyond our assumptions, uncover the realities of people’s lives, and find ways to address their needs.

GBA Plus should be applied throughout an initiative’s process, from inception to implementation to evaluation to identify and mitigate potential challenges and barriers to ensure inclusivity for all people.

GBA Plus Process
Text version

Graphic illustrating the steps of GBA Plus: identify issue, challenge assumptions, gather the facts (research and consult), develop options and make recommendations, monitor and evaluate, communicate, document. GBA Plus for excellent results for diverse Canadians.

Watch Women and Gender Equality Canada’s microlearning videos for examples of GBA Plus impacts in Canada (available on the Department for Women and Gender Equality Canada’s YouTube channel).

The learning pyramid

Average learning retention rates

The Learning Pyramid
Text version

An image of the "Learning Pyramid," which indicates the average learning retention rates from least to most effective in percentage. In the "passive learning" category is lecture (5%), reading (10%), audio-visual (20%), and demonstration (30%). In the "active learning category" is discussion group (50%), practice by doing (75%), and apply skills / teach others (90%).


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