Just as many other aspects of our work and life have moved online, so to have our events. With events both large and small being held remotely, digital accessibility is important to ensure that all attendees, including people with disabilities, are able to participate and engage effectively.
Below are a few steps to create a virtual event that is inclusive and accessible for everyone.
When publicizing the event and registering participants, ask about accommodation needs and be prepared to follow through on that offer. It is a default on University calendar postings to ask about accommodation needs, but you can also provide accommodation information within either the event posting itself or within the registration form. Recommended accommodation language:
Please let us know if you require an accommodation in order to participate in this event. Accommodations may include live captioning, ASL interpreters, and/or captioned media and accessible documents from recorded events.
Use an Accessible Platform
Many virtual event platforms have launched over the past year, and they are not always accessible. Be sure to ask about the accessibility of any platform you may be using (this is often provided in the form of a VPAT). At the most basic level, accessible platforms are properly labeled for screen reader usage, can be navigated with a keyboard only, and allow for captions. If you have questions about the accessibility of a platform you are considering, please contact email@example.com.
Create Accessible Materials
A foundational piece of an accessible event is providing participants with accessible materials. Following these accessibility best practices will help ensure your materials work for all individuals.
Whenever possible, distribute materials electronically prior to your event. This creates a more accessible experience by ensuring:
- Individuals with assistive technology can access the materials on their own devices.
- Individuals can review any information ahead of time.
- Individuals can follow along in whatever modality helps them to best process the information.
Present in an Accessible Manner
There are small adjustments that can be made to ensure your presentation is accessible and inclusive of everyone.
- Describe any visuals for those who may not be able to see the screen.
- Encourage all participants to identify themselves before speaking to help others more easily follow the conversation.
- Read aloud or summarize items from the chat for those who cannot easily access the chat feature.
Make Use of AI Captioning
While live captioning (CART) is sometimes a requested accommodation, most video conferencing platforms (i.e. Zoom) also offer the ability to provide AI-generated captions to increase accessibility for all participants. Consider enabling Zoom or Teams live captioning/transcription at the start of the event, and remind participants how they can turn off the captions if needed. (Note: If a participant requests captions as an accommodation, complete this form to receive live captioning (CART) by 3rd party vendor at a cost of $75/hour.)