We can all agree that 2020 was the year of the “pivot” within the event industry. We had to focus on shifting previously planned in-person events to the virtual space. Now, almost a year later, we continue to focus on elevating the virtual experience for attendees. Accessibility may not have been top of mind as people scrambled to deliver their events in 2020. But, moving into 2021 the bar has been raised and accessibility is a must. Thinking about accessibility in a digital space may not be intuitive, so here are some key elements to keep in mind as you plan your future events.
1. Your Audience
If your event is membership based, you may already have data on your audience to pull from. But if not, do not be afraid to ask questions during the registration process to ensure you are accommodating attendees. You may find that a large portion of the audience will be listening to the event in their second language, or there may be visual and hearing considerations to be addressed when planning your content delivery. It is not impolite to ask! It will encourage those with accessibility needs to attend the event as they see you are prioritizing inclusivity.
2. Accessibility Tools
Now that you know who your audience is and what their needs are, you can shift focus on how to accommodate these needs. If you have not yet selected your virtual platform, focus on platforms that meet AODA (or other, similar legislation) compliance requirements. Some platforms offer even more accessibility options for your audience. For example, PheedLoop, allows you to select tailored profiles such as a seizure safe profile that reduces flash or the choice to change your font size or contrast on your screen. You can also investigate what other tools you can leverage, such as providing live simultaneous translation, closed captioning, and/or an American Sign Language translator.
3. Budget Considerations
As accessibility tools come at a cost, it is important to include these items in your initial event budget. This ensures you have funds set aside to accommodate. It is important to ensure you are ready to adapt to the needs of your audience so they can fully engage and enjoy the event!
Looking to learn more? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you elevate your virtual meeting or transition to a hybrid format without compromising accessibility or inclusivity!