Welcome Accessibility & Events was founded in 2014 by Marianne Dijkshoorn. The company works on inclusive event organisation and advises on accessibility for people with disabilities in leisure activities such as events, festivals, museums and theatres. For Marianne, accessibility and inclusion revolve around an equal experience and participation. After all, nobody makes an outing just because the venue has a (wheelchair-accessible) toilet. You go somewhere because you have a goal, and in the case of a leisure activity you often want to be able to follow the stage experience.
How it started with the first accessible festival.
The knowledge of accessibility stems from the moment that Marianne unknowingly made the first festival in the Netherlands accessible in 2008. Marianne wanted to go to a festival that was organised on a hill with her ‘healthy-looking’ friends. Climbing a steep hill is a challenge due to her disability. She found a listening ear with the organisation and so she unknowingly made the first festival in the Netherlands accessible to people with a disability.
Marianne’s knowledge has now grown, partly due to her graduation research from 2011: ‘How can festivals become more accessible and offer more experience to people with disabilities’, and her book from 2018: ‘Make your Event Accessible to Everyone’. The book contains many practical tips about accessibility from a hospitality point of view. Marianne published the book to put accessibility at events (venues) more on the agenda. Due to the emerging international assignments, the book was published in English in 2023. Marianne also gave interviews for the books ‘Ministeries voor de Nieuwe Tijd’ (‘Ministries for the New Age’) and ‘De Inclusie Marathon’ (‘The Inclusion Marathon’).
The fact that accessibility has been placed more on the agenda is evidenced by the following events:
• The successful lobby for an accessible Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam in 2021. This was one of the first events in the world that was accessible to people with all types of disabilities, both in terms of broadcasting and live events.
• The development of the Roadmap for Accessible Festivals in 2020, of which Marianne was the initiator.
• The national King’s Day celebration in Rotterdam in 2023 was the first fully accessible outdoor event in the Netherlands with, among other things, viewing platforms, audio description, writing interpreters and a sensory-friendly room.
Why the specialisation in recreation and leisure activities?
The passion for accessibility and inclusion in leisure activities and venues comes from Marianne’s background. She did three courses in event organisation, because she wanted to become an event organiser. Her talent for event organisation was proven by winning the award for up-and-coming talent event ‘De Houten Giraffe’ in 2011. In 2014, Marianne wanted to organise freelance events, so Welcome Accessibility & Events was born. To stick out from the crowd, she added accessibility advice, which has become more of a phenomenon in recent years. Marianne still has a lot of passion for the events industry and she still organises an event now and then with great pleasure. Because of this involvement with the events industry, she is a jury member at the National Events Awards in the Netherlands.
Marianne Dijkshoorn as a person.
Despite her disability, Marianne wants to get the most out of life and leave the world a little more beautiful and accessible than she found it. She is convinced that everyone can participate if we think more in terms of hospitality. A well-known example of this is walking up to people if they cannot reach something and asking “Can I help you with something?” Then you will automatically hear no—or yes and how.
Marianne can tell you from a positive experience how all types of venues, including monumental buildings, can be made more accessible to everyone in simple and practical ways. In addition, she has come up with practical solutions such as a wheelchair mat and a menu at the bar where you can point to things without having to communicate through loud background noise.
Marianne earned nominations for her work for: ‘Freelancer of the Year’ (2023), the ‘Rotterdamse Businesswoman Award’ (2020/2021), the ‘Her Abilities Award’ (2019) and the Viva400 Award’ (2018). Marianne’s vision is to create a more accessible world in which everyone can experience equality and participate inclusively. Would you like to hear Marianne’s story at your meeting?
Marianne’s working method.
Marianne Dijkshoorn works on accessibility and inclusion based on the hospitality principle and experience. For Marianne, accessibility consists of three phases:
• Accessibility: This concerns the provision of information via a website or app about the facilities arranged at the location.
• Passability: This is about an equal experience on location; can you follow the stage experience? Can you order something at the bar yourself? And finally, can you use a (wheelchair accessible) toilet independently?
• Exitability: This is about security; is there a plan to safely remove people with a physical, hearing, visual and mental disability from the location in the event of an emergency? People with a (temporary) disability are less self-reliant in emergencies.
More and more locations are receiving a certificate for an ‘accessible location’ from Welcome Accessibility & Events. Do you also want a location that is accessible, passable and exitable for everyone, even if the stage setup often changes due to events? Then ask Marianne for a collaboration.
Do you want to collaborate?
As you can see, Marianne Dijkshoorn has already done a lot, advising on accessibility to events (locations), festivals and buildings such as stadiums, town halls and hotels, and outdoor spaces such as playgrounds, tourist locations and residential areas. As a speaker, she has already inspired many target groups, from local event organisers to students, cinema operators, officials involved in inclusion, to polling station employees and museum directors.
Do you want Marianne as a speaker, advisor on accessibility or (co-)event organiser? Do you want an experience course with wheelchairs and visually impaired walking sticks at your event? Or do you have another question or idea? Enter your details in the form below and we will contact you as soon as possible.
Marianne Dijkshoorn can help you with the organisation of an accessible event, making your location accessible, training you and your staff in the hospitable reception of people with disabilities, and delivering a lecture on accessibility and/or hospitality, so that everyone feels welcome. With accessibility advice, you go beyond just an experience; you get something with which you can further build on the hospitality at the location.
Lecture on accessibility and / or hospitality:
Accessibility, diversity, inclusion and hospitality together form a topic for many organisations during a conference. Would you like a lecture/guest lecture/panel contribution/workshop, or another speaker contribution?
Marianne Dijkshoorn has done in-depth studies to make all kinds of locations accessible, from events to residential areas, and from public and private buildings to public spaces. She knows everything about hospitality, experience and safety in the field of accessibility for people with a disability. Because of her own limitation—she has difficulty with walking—she knows like no other how to connect theory with practice. In the speaker’s contribution, there is always a suitable message that the audience can use.
Training to hospitably receive people with disabilities:
What do people with disabilities need to be hospitably received? In this training, I let you experience, in a small group, what it is like to roll through a location with a wheelchair, to find your way with a blind cane and to experience what it is like to be hard of hearing.
If you visit a restaurant or meeting as a walking person, you can expect a chair. A wheelchair user brings their own chair. Often this is overlooked, and that is why the user needs to park their wheelchair somewhere, such as in a aisle, which creates safety risks. After all, from an evacuation point of view, the aisles must remain clear. It feels much more hospitable to a wheelchair user if a place has been reserved for that person.
You can indicate the place with a so-called wheelchair mat, which is custom-made with the logo of your organisation on it. In the photos, the mat is printed in black and white. These mats can also be made in the house-style colours of the organisation.
The large mat is used in conference halls and measures 95×95 centimetres; the small 70×70 mat is a good solution for dining tables and conference tables. The large mat costs €99.95 (excluding shipping and VAT) and the small mat costs €89.95 (excluding shipping and VAT). It is advisable to order at least two mats of each type so that you can always receive two wheelchair users at the same time. With every order, a free robust storage tube of 100 centimetres long and 11 centimetres wide is supplied for each size. Each tube can take up to four mats.
The mats are easy to clean with water and can be reused many times, both inside and outside. For extra safety, they can be stuck in place with appropriate tape.
For the design of the mats, a logo in ESP format and the numbers (CMYK or RGB Hex), or a digital example of the house-style colours are required. The delivery time is 10 working days after approval of the design on average; this is excluding shipping time.
If you would like to order these mats or receive more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advice on the accessibility of various locations:
“In addition to advising many festivals and event locations, in most countries, there are no standards for accessibility, and advice from people with a disability alone is not always helpful. I can test your location based on expertise; I have more than 10 years of knowledge and experience in accessibility for people with visual, auditory, physical and mental disabilities. I have also been able to advise on the accessibility of buildings such as stadiums, town halls and museums, as well as outdoor spaces such as playgrounds, tourist locations and residential areas.”