Enhancing Accessibility at Soho Summit

Overview

Soho House, renowned for its exclusive members’ clubs and cultural events, embarked on a transformative journey to enhance the inclusivity and accessibility of their first-ever Soho Summit – A festival of ideas which ran over two days in April 2023, and featured keynote talks with actors and fashion designers, immersive art experiences, hands-on workshops, panel discussions with sustainability experts, screenings with auteur filmmakers and gala dinners.

The partnership with Tilting the Lens, paved the way for a groundbreaking initiative aimed at making the Soho Summit a truly accessible and inclusive experience for all attendees.

The Challenge

While the Soho Summit was shaping up to be an event with thought-provoking conversations and networking opportunities, the organisers recognised the need to make the event more accessible. They aimed to ensure that individuals with diverse abilities, including those who are blind or have low vision, Deaf individuals, and others with disabilities, could participate fully and engage with the event’s content.

The Solution

Partnering with Tilting the Lens, Soho House embarked on a comprehensive approach to enhance accessibility throughout the Soho Summit. The collaboration involved implementing several key measures to cater to a wider range of attendees:

  1. Physical Descriptions: Panellists and facilitators at the Soho Summit offered physical descriptions of themselves before starting their presentations or discussions. This accommodation was particularly beneficial for individuals who are blind or have low vision, enabling them to create a mental image of the speakers.
  2. BSL Interpreters: British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters were present at every talk, ensuring that Deaf attendees had equal access to the event’s content and discussions. The interpreters played a pivotal role in bridging communication gaps and facilitating meaningful participation.
  3. Ramps and Handrails: The main stage of the Soho Summit was equipped with ramps and handrails, ensuring that individuals with mobility challenges could access the stage comfortably and safely. This proactive approach reflected Soho House’s commitment to creating an inclusive physical environment.
  4. Subtitles for Cinema Screenings: To cater to attendees with hearing loss, all cinema screenings at the Soho Summit were accompanied by subtitles. This simple yet impactful measure ensured that everyone could enjoy the cinematic content without barriers.

Results & Impact

The partnership between Soho House and Tilting the Lens yielded remarkable results, transforming the Soho Summit into a benchmark for accessible and inclusive events. By embracing accessibility measures, the event not only catered to Disabled individuals but also set an example for the broader events industry.

The success of the Soho Summit’s accessibility initiative highlights the importance of collaboration and innovation in creating inclusive events. In addition, Soho Summit have continued to champion accessible events, most recently at the Soho Summit in Los Angeles where the following accessibility features have been implemented: ASL interpreters for the talks, ramps and handrails on the main stage, and closed captioning on all cinema screenings. They also encourage panellists, facilitators and leadership to begin their engagement with a visual description of themselves to accommodate those who are blind or have low vision.

Soho House’s commitment to enhancing accessibility at the Soho Summit serves as an inspiration to event organisers worldwide. By partnering with accessibility experts, organisations can unlock the potential to create environments where everyone, regardless of ability, can participate, engage, and thrive.