TRADE SHOWS and WHEELCHAIRS Trade shows are hard work, and even more so for attendees who may use a wheelchair. For some, the chair may be new and temporary but for most attendees, it is where they live.
Here are six tips for making life easier for everyone on the show floor ....
1. Well, let's just be honest. Those folks in the chairs know that they are in the chairs. It's your responsibility to make them as comfortable in your space as any other visitor. Quick no-no or two -- don't gawk -- don't ask stupid questions -- don't raise your voice (they have a leg problem, not an ear problem). If you have a genuine interest, most folks will tell you their story quickly.
2. These days, wheelchairs are smaller and allow more mobility. Watch out for them as they zip around the corners and scoot out of elevators. The problem is we look straight ahead, and not down. Especially at a show, an event or in a crowded hotel, you need to sweep your eyes up, down and around.
3. It's important to maintain eye contact, as with any visitor, but rather than hunching over, pull up a chair so you're both at the same eye level and have a normal conversation.
4. Just as people with vision problem may have a person with them as a guide, so too may people in chairs. While it's polite to acknowledge the guide, address your comments to the visitor, not the guide.
5. If you're showing video, using a computer or have a demonstration at a 40" height, be able to adjust it for people in a wheelchair or who may not be able to see at that height. In a double deck exhibit? Have a duplicate on both floors.
6. Make sure aisles are wide and clear. When designing your exhibit, be sure chair and table legs don't angle out and there are no sharp edges on any item or graphic in your exhibit. These will snag not only those in a wheelchair, but careless walkers as well.
A little thinking before the show can save a lot of woe at and after the show.
Julia O'Connor - Speaker, Author, Consultant - writes about practical aspects of trade shows. As president of Trade Show Training, inc,, now celebrating its 11th year, she works with companies in a variety of industries to improve their bottom line and marketing opportunities at trade shows.
Julia is an expert in the psychology of the trade show environment and uses this expertise in sales training and management seminars. Contact her at 804-355-7800 or check the site http://www.TradeShowTraining.com