Is Your Summer Event Welcoming and Accessible to People with Disabilities?

Laura Akgerman Disability Services Coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility

Summer is the season for outdoor events – street fairs, farmers markets, county fairs, and Agritourism. If your event or business is open to the public, it must be accessible to people with disabilities.

The American’s with Disabilities Act is a federal law that requires businesses and events to be accessible to everyone. Not only will ADA guidelines benefit the 14% of Ohioan’s who have a disability, they also make your event open and welcoming to everyone.

Having accessible entrances is the first step to providing access to your facilities and programs. Facilities which have wide entrances with ramps or no steps, easy to open doors, and large restroom stalls are easier for people with baby strollers or carts, as well as people who use canes or walkers.

However, providing access is more than getting people through the gate, it also includes, advertising, parking, restrooms and more. Here is a list of topics to consider when making your event accessible to people with disabilities.

Promotional materials and websites

All websites and advertisements should be accessible. Include information for whom to contact about requests for accommodations to the event, such as sign language interpreters, accessible seating, or accessible programs or maps. If the event is accessible, including an accessibility symbol on advertising indicates your event welcomes everyone.


When parking is provided for the public, accessible parking spaces must be allotted for those with disabilities. For every 25 spaces, at least one space must be designated as accessible. The accessible parking space should be the space closest to the accessible entrance.  If you have van accessible spaces, there should be additional space located either to the right or left of the space, to serve as an access aisle. This additional space allows a person in a wheelchair or other mobility device to get out of the vehicle freely. Accessible parking spaces should be on level ground, and should be free of debris or obstructions.

Walking paths and surfaces

Walking paths should be designed for easy travel. They should be clear of debris, equipment, and other barriers (for example hoses, tools, or piles of dirt). Their surface can be a solid or hard packed material, easy for a person using a wheelchair or walker could safely and easily traverse.

Entrances and ticket booths

Entrances for buildings and facilities must contain at least one accessible entrance. Accessibility can be achieved with a ramp, or an entrance with no thresholds, steps or barriers. Accessible entrances should be at least 36” wide.

Accessible entrances must be unlocked during business hours, and if the door or entrance does not have an automatic opener, it should have a bell or buzzer to notify staff to open the door.

If your event has ticket booths, the counter height of at least one ticket booth should be a maximum of 36” high. If you use turnstiles, there must also be a gate, or accessible entrance to bypass the turnstile.


Clear, easy to read signs are necessary to direct people to accessible entrances, parking, and restrooms. Signs in or around permanent buildings should have both text and braille lettering.


ADA Standards require that at least 5% of portable toilets be accessible. Permanent bathrooms should have at least one toilet and sink that are accessible.

Counters and dining tables

Counter height should be a maximum of 36” high, with clear floor space under the counter to allow a person in a wheelchair to pull up to the counter.

If tables are provided, 5% of tables should be accessible, with at least 27 “ of space between the floor and the underside of the table.

Access to stage areas and seating

Accessible seating must be available throughout an event space. If someone attending your event needs to go on the stage, the stage must be accessible. Ramps can be rented to make a stage accessible, or a temporary lift can be used to allow access to the stage.

Service animals

According to the ADA, service animals are dogs or miniature horses only. There is no required or official certification for service animals. The animal must be under the handler’s control at all times, and may be asked to leave if the animal is aggressive or out of control. The handler is responsible for cleaning up after the animal.

To determine if an animal is a service animal, and must be admitted to an event or business, there are only two questions you can legally ask:

  1. Is the dog/mini horse required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

(You cannot ask for a demonstration of the animal’s work)

Emotional support or therapy animals are not covered under the ADA guidelines, and do not have to be admitted to events or businesses.  However, emotional support and therapy animals are covered under certain housing laws; if you offer temporary or permanent housing, the animals may be admissible.

More information about the ADA can be found at Specific information about how the ADA applies to small businesses can be found under the Technical Assistance Materials link on the website. For information about making temporary events accessible, go to

For more information please contact Laura Akgerman, Ohio AgrAbility & OSU Extension Disability Services Coordinator, at, or 614-292-0622.

Selling Food from Your Farm or Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ Market Season is here! Lots of markets are opening this week and especially this weekend. I do hope that you will check out the markets in your area and support your local producers. And if you have ever considered selling agricultural products yourself, here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions I receive.

Can I make food in my home to sell? In Ohio we have Cottage Food Law that allows individuals to make food in their own home. There is a specific list of the foods that can be made including lots of baked goods (cookies, cakes and pies); jams and jellies; and dried mixes. These foods all have minimal risk of causing foodborne illness and do not require any temperature controls to keep them safe for us to eat. There is no inspection of the home kitchen and no fee required. The foods must be properly labeled and have the declarations “This food is home produced.”

It is also possibly though to make cream pies that require refrigeration or other baked foods that are potentially hazardous like cheesecakes or noodles or fry pies. These require a home bakery license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). This is only $10 per year and requires an inspection. You can learn more about these under “Fact Sheets” at ODA Food Safety .

Can I sell salsa or sauces that I can in my home? Since these are processed foods that could be potentially hazardous, they cannot be made in the home and sold. You can make these types of foods in an approved kitchen. This can be any facility outside of your home that has been approved by ODA including another structure on your property, an ODA registered church kitchen, or a shared use facility that co-packs foods.

What are the rules for selling eggs from my farm? In Ohio we can sell eggs from our farms without an inspection or license as long as we maintain 500 or fewer birds. You can find more information from ODA at ODA Egg Producer Fact Sheet

What are the rules to sell eggs somewhere other than my farm? If you want to sell eggs at a Farmers’ Market or restaurant or retail store, then ODA will inspect your farm. They will make sure that water quality is acceptable for washing eggs, that the refrigerator is in working order, and that egg cartons are labeled properly. The only time that a license is required to sell eggs is when selling off farm at a Farmers’ Market. This Mobile Retail Food Establishment (MRFE) license can be obtained from our local County Health Department.

Today I’ll leave you with this quote from Mother Teresa, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

It’s Not Too Late to Register for the East Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference!

It’s not too late! We are extending the registration deadline for the 2017 East Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference until next Friday, March 17. Please tell anyone that you think would enjoy a day of fun, learning and networking.

This year’s conference will be Friday, March 24 from 9:00 am – 3:45 pm. The event will be held at R. G. Drage Career Technical Center, 2800 Richville Drive SE, Massillon, OH 44646.

This year’s program will feature 18 break-out sessions presented by OSU Extension educators, farmers, and partner agencies including: Business & Finance; Plants & Animals; Communication; Home & Family; Special Interest (energy, beekeeping and farmland preservation); and one youth session. Our keynote speaker for this year will be Marlene Eick of Herdmark Media.

We hope to see you there!

Register online with credit card at or complete and send this registration form 2017 East Ohio WIA Registration Flyer

Annie’s Project in Crawford County, January 25 – March 1

Annie’s Project is a six week program designed to strengthen women’s roles in the modern farm enterprise.   Annie’s Project fosters problem solving, record keeping, decision-making skills, and networking for farm women.  The six week session will begin on January 25, 2017 and continue every Wednesday from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm at Pickwick Place, 1875 North Sandusky Ave., Bucyrus, Ohio.  Contact the Crawford County OSU Extension Office at 419-562-8731 to register or visit Annie’s Project – Crawford County OSU Extension for registration information.  Space is limited, so register before January 18. Child care may be available if 2 or more participants need.


Farm Management Program Opportunities This Winter

Looking for learning opportunities? There are several educational programs from OSU Extension this winter about farm management topics like: financial statements and ratios, record keeping, transition planning, business planning, and much more. Some programs are focused specifically for women and some encourage participation from everyone in the farming operation. You can find these programs under Upcoming Events on the OSU Extension Ohio Ag Manager website.