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The world has adapted to making virtual events held on video conferencing platforms the norm over the past year. However, there is a large contingent of people who are unable to attend these events due to the lack of accessibility options. By making sure that your events are accessible, you can expand your audience and show them that you care.
Here’s how you can plan your virtual events to be more accessible to the entire community.
An Inclusive Code Of Conduct
The code of conduct for your event needs to be drafted with people with accessibility issues in mind. You need to be mindful of the various impediments that people with disabilities could face and work to address them as best as you can. Virtual events make it much easier to accommodate people with disabilities already. Starting with your code of conduct, you can plan for your event to be as inclusive as possible.
Here are some things you can do -
● Allow multiple modes of attending such as through the internet or via a dial-in phone number
● Make it optional to turn on the camera
● Be patient while taking questions
● Offer training sessions to brief attendees on the platform and how it is to be used
● Ensure that the services and platforms that you choose to host your event on are compatible with assistive technology
● Designate a person to assist with any accessibility-related issues
Promote Diversity & Recognize Special Needs
As the host of an online event, you need to understand and respect the differences people have and address them accordingly. Making sure that your guests know that your event is accessible to those with disabilities can help foster a healthy inclusive environment. Ensuring access and diversity can go a long way in helping people with limited access be a part of your event. Brief your guests on the measures you’ve taken to help make the event more accessible so they can tune themselves to it better and be understanding when it comes to participation from attendees who have disabilities.
Facilitating Easy Communication
Communication plays a major part in any event, even more so when you’re trying to make your event accessible to people who may not be able to attend events that are not considerate of their needs. Speaking clearly and using live subtitling and captioning features, and the use of visual modes of communication to get your point across to the audience are great ways to be inclusive. It is always great to allow people who require assistance to be active participants in your event.
Here are some things to keep in mind -
● Avoid being ablest
● Avoid using jargon-filled language and keep it as simple as possible
● Make sure your presentations are easy to read and legible
Foster A Healthy & Welcoming Environment
Fostering an understanding and inclusive environment helps people with accessibility issues be more comfortable with your event. Adapting to make events more accessible is a learning process that takes time and effort for hosts as well as those with disabilities. It is a step in the right direction and a great way to make an environment that is more conducive to participation from people with limited accessibility. Creating a warm and welcoming environment is just as important as actually incorporating assistive technology and tools into your events.
Use Captions To Assist Attendees
Virtual events rely on audio/visual communication to get their message across to the audience. While this works fine for most people, we need to recognize and accommodate the special needs of people who are hard of hearing or have other disabilities that make it hard for them to keep up with the audio track of the event.
● Hire a professional to caption your videos and presentations can help make your event more accessible.
● Hire professionals to provide real-time captions to make any speeches at the event easier to understand and keep up with.
● Use good microphones and audio equipment to ensure that the quality of the audio is good
● Mute attendees who aren’t speaking to reduce background noise
● Request speakers to say their name every time they speak so everyone understands who is speaking
Hire American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters
The American Sign Language or ASL is a bridge that connects us to people with hearing, speech, and other communication impediments. Incorporating ASL into your events by hiring an ASL interpreter will make it easier for those with these accessibility issues to understand your event better and participate in the event more actively.
An ASL interpreter can sign what speakers are saying in ASL as well as translate signs from attendees to the audience so there is no friction or discord between the hosts and attendees and everyone can keep up with the content. An ASL interpreter can help facilitate fruitful conversations between people who have different needs and the general audience.
Ensure Access To People Who Are Blind Or Have Cognitive/Speech Impediments
There can be many differences between people and sometimes disabilities are some of those differences that can leave people feeling left out. When hosting an online event, you can be mindful of certain things to make it accessible to people everywhere, no matter the differences they might have.
To help people who are blind -
● Ensure that speakers’ video feeds are well-lit and clear
● Allow participants to raise their hand or notify you to ask questions
● Be descriptive of what you do on stream and read aloud any text that may appear on the screen
● If you’re showing any images or video clips, make sure to describe what is being shown so participants who are blind can understand the context better
To help people with cognitive/speech impediments -
● Be patient and kind when explaining how the platform works or how it should be used. You may need to repeat information or speak at a slower pace to help bridge the gap.
● Speak in simple, concise language. Avoid using any complex terminology or jargon as much as possible.
● Entertain questions from the attendees.
● Allow participants to ask questions using the chat box instead of speaking.
These are some great ways to make your event more accessible. It may not be easy to get everything right the first time you try it, but since accessibility is a learning process for all of us – we can grow together and learn to be more inclusive. Remember that fostering a friendly and welcoming environment is one of the best ways to make people with disabilities feel included as active participants in your event.
We hope this has helped you host better events that are accessible to different and diverse groups of people!
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EventMind does not endorse any particular virtual event platform or software. We review the platforms available on the market monthly (through a combination of client feedback, test events and demos). If you're looking to make online events simple, or want trusted and unbiased advice, then contact the team today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0330 133 3485. We are always keen to get guest contributors on our blog, if you'd like to write a blog on our site and be fully credited, please email email@example.com