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Accessibility & Inclusive Design
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Making COP28 accessible and inclusive to all

Services: Accessibility & Inclusive Design

Mima were the accessibility consultants for COP28UAE, held at Expo City Dubai in November and December 2023. Supporting the wider COP28 teams including transport, marketing, and workforce, our role was to help ensure that the event features, facilities and delegate services were accessible for guests, staff members and volunteers alike.

Our Task

From 30th November to 13th December 2023 Dubai, UAE hosted COP28, the Annual UN Climate Change Conference. The event was held at the Expo2020 site and welcomed a total of 86,000 people. The COP28 summit witnessed an increased presence of disability advocates and more discussions on disability-related climate issues.

Mima was commissioned as access consultants for COP28, working on the ground and remotely towards the COP28 vision of creating the most accessible event of its kind to date. To do this we needed to ensure that the event was physically, socially and digitally accessible. Our key tasks included physical and digital access auditing, creating an accessibility framework, supporting inclusive communications, delivering disability awareness training and providing on-the-ground support during event time.

A photograph showing access consultant and powerchair user Fatma Aljassim testing a height adjustable lectern on the COP28 blue zone stage. Three members of the COP28 design team are stood behind Fatma having a conversation.
Access consultant Fatma Aljassim testing a height adjustable lectern on on a COP28 stage in the Blue Zone with COP28 design team members
A photograph of Emily Yates of Mima  in her wheelchair in front of the doors to a large steel and glass elevator, with a sign saying
Head of Accessibility and Inclusive Emily Yates of Mima conducts an accessibility audit on the lifts at Expo2020 Metro Station

Our Solution

We initially created an accessibility framework, to help ensure there was a consistent approach to accessibility and inclusion across the different COP28 teams. We created a practical guidance document to be used during event planning. This document included event-specific accessibility standards and good practices, which could be used by different teams such as transport, accommodation, digital teams and guest services. We then worked with teams to implement these guidelines in the planning and build stages in the lead up to COP28.

To help understand the COP28 guest journey, we engaged with people who had lived experience of disability, including local and international disabled people's organisations to understand their experiences at similar global events such as Expo 2020 and previous COP events. We used these insights to create a set of personas and user journeys.

Mima was tasked to create and deliver a two part disability awareness training to help all staff and volunteers feel confident supporting disabled people (known as People of Determination in the UAE). We delivered an initial online disability awareness training module to help build empathy and understanding of different users’ access requirements, along with a second training module on accessibility features and facilities across the site.

During our 3 visits to COP28, the team on the ground carried out access audits of the physical environment, including the Blue Zone and the temporary hubs in the Green Zone, reporting back to the team to make any changes ahead of the event opening. To ensure that the website was digitally accessible, Mima carried out an access audit of the website and provided recommendations to the COP28 digital teams. During COP28 we provided onsite support helping to resolve any access issues that arose during event time.

Our work at COP28 went beyond creating an accessible physical environment, it was about creating an equitable experience for staff, volunteers and delegates. We hope that our work at COP28 will help create a legacy for accessibility and inclusion at COP29 and beyond.