A complete guide to make your virtual events accessible

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A complete guide to make your virtual events accessible

A complete guide to make your virtual events accessible

The event industry evolved tremendously in the past couple of years. The idea of virtual events is very alluring with its low-cost benefits from marketing, reach, and captivating the audience. The participants surpassed many hurdles like language, age, locale, impairments, and disorders with the help of accessibility. Thus, the virtual aspects of an event show a vivid presence in the foreseeable future. 

According to the HLAA- Hearing Loss Association of America, 20% of Americans have hearing loss, 6% of employees have invisible impairments. For your event to encounter its full potential, it has to be an accessible event. Here, we present a complete guide to making your virtual events accessible. The areas covered further in this article are:

  1. What is a virtual event?
  2. Types of the virtual events
  3. What is accessibility?
  4. Why is accessibility important in a virtual environment?
  5. Accessibility features offered by CaptioningStar
  6. The common accessibility barriers:
  7. How to prepare content for an accessible event?
  8. Role of proper and prior communication with the attendees
  9. Significance of being inclusive
  10. How to start the event?
  11. Presenting an accessible event
  12. The other types of accessibility
  13. Steps to follow post-event

1. What is a virtual event?

virtual event

Any event carried out on online premises is a virtual event. These events are vast and varied. From a simple seminar to a grand festival, everything can be virtual. They aim to create interactions as effectively as in physical events. Several advanced features like engagement boosters, digital marketing, and tracking make the virtual environment a sustaining tool. 

Virtual events can be free of charge or paid events. They can be of any size and nature. The further details of an event depend on the purpose of the event. 

2. Types of virtual events

Types of Events

Webinar

A seminar conducted on the world wide web is called a webinar. It is more of a lecture or a presentation delivered virtually to an online audience. It can be live or recorded with limited features like chat options, face-to-face interaction, time-constrained sessions, etc. The best example for webinars could be present-day online education. These lectures can easily repurpose as a video or text almost instantly with a live recording option and captioning service.

Virtual summits and conferences

These are the most common virtual events. It could be a linear internal business meeting or establishing your complex business to the public with workshops and events. Virtual event platforms present simple and powerful features like multiple sessions, social networking, intuitive interactions, keynotes, global reach, and much more. They also provide pre and post-event management like CRM, marketing platforms integration, and digital analytics with reporting, etc.

Live event

Some events like an award show, press conference have their significance to be live. These events are uncut and entirely live. Live events create a feeling of being a part of the event for the audience, which induces engagement and involvement. It focuses more on capturing leads, building brand awareness, and building relationships.

Internal hybrid events

 63% of companies with almost 5000 employees added hybrid events to their portfolio. When an in-person broadcast is simultaneously online, it is called a – Hybrid event. An internal hybrid event is usually within an organization. For example, an employee induction program for a multinational company- a single session can orientate participants scattered around the world.  

External hybrid events

Virtual aids and tools are incorporated in the content planning to include virtual audiences as much as the in-person audience. External events usually thrive for large audiences outside the organizational circle. Some best examples are virtual job fairs, expo, trade shows, and sponsorship events that go for a wider reach.

3. What is accessibility

Accessbility

In virtual events, accessibility provides an equal opportunity, electronic access, and alternate options to everyone despite any disability the user might have. It can be a physical impairment or neurological impairment, and it can be a visible or invisible.

Besides, physical location and language barriers can also bar accessibility. Hosting an accessible event means being inclusive of all the expected outcomes and preparing your stage accordingly. 

4. Why is accessibility important in a virtual environment?

First of all, it is a legal requirement. As per the Title III of ADA- Americans with disabilities act, websites and virtual events are places of public accommodation. And thus, online platforms must provide accessibility to avoid risking discrimination against people with disabilities. And WCAG- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines also insist on following guidelines to distribute equal accessibility to users with impairment and aging people.

ADA

One of the most important reasons to host accessible events is to reach out to more varied audiences. Take measures for visual, auditory, neurological, motor, and cognitive disabilities while planning content for your event. This way, your event is comprehensive and interactive to everyone despite any barriers.

5. Accessibility services offered by CaptioningStar

Live Closed Captioning/ CART Captioning

Live Closed Captioning

Live Captioning, also known as live transcription, provides real-time subtitles for the video content. Captioners listen to the audio and convert them to text. Most beneficial for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

Live Subtitling Captioning

Live Subtitling on Zoom translates from the source language into the language of your choice. Eg. English to Spanish subtitling. Bilingual linguistics is employed for subtitling and is one of the best approaches for ESL speakers. 

Live Stream Captioning

Are you conducting an event on any video conferencing platform and streaming it on social media? We have options to include real-time captions in either your video conferencing or social media platforms. This keep’s your audience engaged throughout.

ASL Interpretations

For all your events on Medical, Legal, Educational, Business, and Government, we provide ASL interpreting services that are highly regulated. Our certified interpreters provide in-person and virtual interpreting services for deaf and hard of hearing.

Pre-recorded Video Captioning

Do you have pre-recorded Zoom videos in your library? Bring them to us. We have better methods to reproduce your Zoom videos. We help you to reach wider audiences by making these videos more accessible. 

Streamtext Real-time Captioning

You need no special equipment or software with Streamtext. If you wish to make your captions appear on a separate window or device without disturbing the original source, just use the unique Streamtext URL to enable live captions.

Phone/Virtual Interpreters

Phone Intrepreter

Are you trying to communicate over the phone with someone else of a different language, maybe for a business or personal purpose? Hire our remote telephone interpreting services where we support as many as 50+ languages.

Lip Reading Oral Transliteration

Do you know someone who is deaf but needs to communicate with another person using speech reading and speaking?  You need the help of our oral transliterators, who can translate the message of a deaf person to a hearing person and vice versa.

Verbatim print materials/ Transcripts

Transcripts

Get your free verbatim print materials in 48 hours after your Zoom session. These materials are carefully proofread by our editors and the final error-free version is sent to you for further documentation and other post-production activities.

Notetakers

Never miss anything in a meeting or live lectureWe are ready to take notes on the go. Go paper-free with CaptioningStar, that could save your time and hassle. Notes can be auto-generated or prepared manually by our transcriptionists.

6. The common accessibility barriers

Physical accessibility

According to CDC- Centers for disease control and prevention, almost 61% of adults in the US report some physical accessibility issues. It can be invisible, moderate, or even acute. Some of the common barriers:

  • Visual impairments ( vision loss, partial loss, legal blindness)
  • Hearing loss or impairments
  • Speech impairments (a disorder of sound, fluency, or delay)
  • Motor impairment ( partial body part function, lack of muscle control, poor stamina)

Cognitive accessibility

Learning or neurocognitive disorder focus on comprehension, concentration, and remembrance of new things. It may also be any difficulty that hinders the learning process, for example, autism, ADHD, dyslexia, etc.

7. How to prepare content for an accessible event?

Interface design

According to the four main principles of WCAG, the content must be POUR:

Perceivable- Design the user interface in an easily perceivable, adaptable way.

Operable- Smooth interaction and navigation

Understandable- Simple and neat formatting with input assistance

Robust- Compatible and assistive technology-friendly

For example, using contrasting colors, large font and format for headings, sufficient explanatory words, interactive elements, and easy navigation options can help you meet the web content accessibility requirements. Must include controls for playing and pausing videos and such.

Content preparation

Choose a content management system that contains accessible template designs, interactive elements, and communication flow. The event platform also needs to be considerate about accessibility. Look for the interactable UI design, live captioning services in the virtual event platforms.

ASL Interpreter

Virtual event

Hire a sign language interpreter capable of conveying your content in sign language, body posture, and facial expression. This way, you could eliminate any last-minute hunt for an interpreter. In a way, it would make your content hearing-impairment friendly in general and welcome a diverse audience to your event.

Captioning Services

Captions are an easy way to increase viewership. When it acts as an accessibility requirement, it also helps in several other ways. It makes your content globally available and repurposes your videos into blogs or posts in no time. Studies have shown that 80% of the television audience who use captions are not deaf. But instead, they find it of great use as it is easier to follow. Captions permit them to grasp the content despite the nature of the environment and increase involvement.

The power of captions is reliable on the effectiveness of its usage. Choose a professional captioning service provider to yield more benefits out of captions and subtitles. CaptioningStar provides high-standard captions, subtitles, and live captioning services.

8. Role of proper and prior communication with the attendee

Email clarifications

According to statistics, 77% of marketers prioritize email accessibility for branding. Drafting an ADA-compliant email with illustrations, responsive design, and color symbolism can improve your business altogether. Reach out to the participants who need some additional guidelines. Ask them about accommodation demands and seating arrangements in advance.

Sending invitations with event details- length of the program, interactive elements planned out for the event, the format of the event, etc. This way, the attendees can prepare themselves for what is ahead.

Provide the materials before the event

Meeting Agenda

Another great way to prepare the participants for the event is- distributing the event content beforehand. Especially for people with visual impairments, it helps to familiarize themselves with the given information using screen readers and voice assistants. 

Customize registration options

 Few practices to customize an accessible event can be- using semantic coding, giving examples, embedding screen readers code. Accessible forms mutualize opportunities for everyone to register. It has a strong command in boosting confidence to the attendees in how accessible your events would be.

9. Significance of being inclusive

Deliver inclusive content

Inclusivity

An inclusive content should include a wide range of diversity – all races, sex, age, sexual identities, body size, socio-economical status, learning behavior, and difficulties. In visual or video representations, be unbiased and include illustrations inclusive of different cultures and gender.

Invite speakers and guests of diverse demographic backgrounds to deliver directly relatable experiences and inclusive content.

Trained employees

While it is easier to maintain conduct about the cliche topics, the newer trends need more additional delicacy. Sometimes the speaker may not intend to do an inconsiderable or offensive action, and they may slip out due to the force of habit. Despite the personal beliefs and background, the employees must articulate in a trained, inclusive manner of all people and their differences.

10. How to start the event?

Providing additional and elaborated instructions for joining the event. Write a descriptive guide with images and instructions. Include audio tracks if possible to eliminate visual impairment issues. Embed screen reader code and make it a self-explanatory guide for the audience that takes them from one step to another step.

11. Presenting an accessible event

Few practices to implement while presenting an accessible event:

  • Be loud, clear, audible, and use simple language. 
  • To improve interactions, read out loud the questions and pause before receiving all the answers. 
  • Assure that the closed captions are available with audio descriptions so everyone can interpret the content better despite linguistic and other barriers. 
  • Spell out the new terminologies, nouns, technical words, acronyms, and keywords. 
  • Describe each element of the slide- the visual representation or illustrations.

12. The other types of accessibility

Environmental accessibility

 In in-person events, this refers to the physical venue. But in virtual space, environmental accessibility denotes the platform choice, surrounding of the host, and the participants. According to the American press institute, 85% of Facebook videos are mute while watching. Facilities like live captions, chat options, and audio/video turn-off options eliminate the threat of noisy ambiance.

Economic accessibility

 Virtual events are relatively low-cost compared to traditional events. The rent for the physical venue, food, and beverages costs are cut-down. Budgeting accordingly, hosting sponsorship events can help further in providing economic events.

Not all participants afford to log in from well-performing devices. So it is crucial to conduct events in a robust, compatible, responsive platform that does not compromise on the functionality of features. 

13. Steps to follow post-event

Video On Demand services

Record the sessions without fail and arrange access to the recorded sessions for the participants. Send over transcriptions or embed captioning to the recorded videos. VOD could be a great reference material for the audience that they can rewatch whenever needed as per their convenience.  

Feedback

Feed Back

According to Markletic, 64 % of event managers refer to the sales team’s feedback to determine audience satisfaction. Gratifying your audience is very important for them to retain back to your future events. And sometimes, the best outcome of communication comes from listening. Post-event feedback can play a crucial role in improvising your events. 

Request feedback via electronic mail and casually draft Q/A sessions into the mail. Popping up these sessions can quickly survey reviews. For example, agree to disagree or Yes/No/Not really type of questions. Narrowing down to the repetitive comments can give a broader view of your event performance- the strong and weak points of the program. 

Solving the problems or even attending to comments and feedback make the audience feel heard. Intrusiveness drives away the customers instantly. So keep an eye on the FAQ and repetitive comments to serve impeccably. 

Accessible events are transforming to be one of the essential features for attracting a diverse audience. And captioning your content is the first step to making your events accessible on multiple levels. CaptioningStar can take your virtual event journey to a more profitable path with brilliant captioning services. Check out our services.

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