Trade Shows and Exhibitions

Trade shows, exhibitions, conference exhibit halls, employment fairs, and other marketing events are designed to attract consumers with a common interest in things such as cars, gardens, crafts, cultures, causes, or careers.  At these events, consumers and a collection of related businesses and organizations communicate about themselves, their products and services.  Informational workshops or demonstrations may be conducted and announcements may be broadcast using a public address system.

Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing have the equal right to participate in and benefit from these events.  However, large crowds, large spaces, and high volume background noise may significantly impede even brief communication by and with deaf or hard of hearing attendees.  Without appropriate auxiliary aids and services, they do not have equal access to the information and communication shared at these events.

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in places of public accommodation.  Public accommodations include hotels, convention centers, stadiums, and other places of exhibition, entertainment, or public gathering.

Private businesses or organizations that own, lease, or operate space in places of public accommodation for trade shows, exhibitions, employment fairs, and other marketing events must make sure those events are accessible to attendees with disabilities.  In addition to physical access for attendees with limited mobility, the ADA requires private businesses and organizations to provide auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication with deaf or hard of hearing attendees so they may enjoy an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from those events.  Private businesses and organizations must also modify their policies and practices when necessary to provide equal access to their services and facilities.

A “Model ADA Policy” was developed as a guide for businesses and organizations that host, conduct, or operate trade shows, exhibitions, employment fairs, and other marketing events to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing attendees have equal access to those events.

Trade Shows and Exhibitions:
Model ADA Policy for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Attendees

  • In compliance with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Trade Show, Exhibition, Employment Fair, or Other Marketing Event Operator (hereinafter “Trade Show”) is committed to providing individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in Trade Show events and equal access to the services, facilities and accommodations offered by Trade Show at the events.  Trade Show will not discriminate on the basis of disability in connection with the operation by Trade Show of Trade Show events.
  • Trade Show will provide auxiliary aids and services at Trade Show events to ensure effective communication with attendees who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Such auxiliary aids and services may include qualified sign language interpreters, written materials, computer assisted real time transcription services (also called CART), assistive listening systems or devices, captioning, text displays or other visual aids, or other effective methods of making aurally delivered information and communication accessible to deaf or hard of hearing attendees.
  • The content of the communication between exhibitors at Trade Show events and attendees who are deaf or hard of hearing is the responsibility of the particular exhibitor.
  • Deaf or hard of hearing individuals may request that auxiliary aids and services be provided at a Trade Show event.  Requests, preferably in writing (by letter or e-mail), should be directed to the Trade Show Manager at least fourteen (14) days prior to the first day of the particular event.  The request should state the specific event, date and times of attendance, and the auxiliary aids and services requested.  The website for the Trade Show events (insert trade show URL) will contain a notice of the foregoing process along with the mailing address and a direct link to the Trade Show Manager’s e-mail address.
  • All requests for auxiliary aids and services received by Trade Show on a timely basis will be fully reviewed.  Upon completion of the review, a written response will be sent to the requestor at least seven (7) days prior to the event indicating the action to be taken by Trade Show.  Trade Show will make best efforts to provide the requested auxiliary aids and services.
  • Trade Show will make best efforts to review and respond to requests made less than fourteen (14) days in advance, and to provide the requested auxiliary aids and services.