7 Ideas to Improve the Accessibility of Your Virtual Events


March 31, 2023
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7 Ideas to Improve the Accessibility of Your Virtual Events

Work culture has evolved rapidly in recent years. And with this progression, more opportunities for remote meetings, conferences, and other virtual events have emerged. Online events save companies time and resources and extend reach around the world. Plus, unlike with in-person events, virtual event attendees can tune in from their homes or wherever they have an internet connection. 

Whether you present a slide deck or facilitate a video group discussion, you’ll want to minimize potential obstacles to create the best possible online event experience. Structure, clear communication, and accessibility are just a few factors that determine a successful virtual event. 

In this post, we’ll focus on how to make events more accessible and why this practice is beneficial for everyone. 

How accessibility improves virtual events 

According to the World Health Organization, about 1.3 billion people in the world have a disability. As you plan a virtual event, foster a space where all attendees can participate, regardless of their limitations. 

Accessibility-for-virtual-events-2

Accessibility removes obstacles and allows the maximum number of people to enjoy your virtual event, including persons with physical and cognitive impairments. As you improve the experience for all participants, you strengthen connections and nurture a sense of community.

When you prioritize accessibility, you also:
  • Reach a wider audience. Without certain accommodations, persons with disabilities may be unable to participate in your events. Making events accessible eliminates this issue and encourages more attendees to join, increasing your audience reach and impact.
  • Improve your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. Accessibility is a crucial element of any DEI initiative because it shows you pay attention to the needs of others and take steps to include everyone. By incorporating accessibility features and technology, event organizers can ensure that everyone, regardless of disabilities or impairments, can participate and enjoy the event.
  • Create a positive user experience. Closed captions and accessible presentations benefit everyone, not just persons with disabilities or impairments. An educational research study conducted by Oregon State University found that 98.6% of respondents find captions helpful, regardless of disability. Participants will appreciate your efforts to streamline their experience as much as possible. 

7 virtual event accessibility ideas

Implementing accessibility options doesn’t have to be a long and strenuous process. Here’s a quick accessibility checklist for virtual events to get you started: 

1 . Ask about assistive needs 

When in doubt, ask. Registration forms should include space for participants to explain any special needs and request accommodations. For instance, someone with hearing loss may want closed captioning, while someone with a visual impairment can request slides with strong contrast colors or audio explanations of images. 

2. Choose the right video platform 

When sifting through the many video conference software options available, choose the one that meets all your virtual event accessibility needs. Consider the following questions as you search for your ideal platform:
  • Can participants join your event from multiple devices, such as their laptop or smartphone?
  • Is there a chat box where participants can share resources and communicate nonverbally?
  • Does it offer options for closed captions and audio descriptions?
  • Can you integrate it with other assistive technologies? 
  • Is the interface user-friendly?
  • Can people navigate the platform easily and without a mouse? 

3. Enable closed captioning 

When you enable closed captioning for events, you create a visual transcription of dialogue in real time so viewers can follow along without delay. This is especially helpful for attendees with auditory impairment, as it lets them read and engage in conversations. 

Additionally, with a virtual event, you may have international attendees who aren't fluent in English. Closed captions reduce possible language barriers with written translations.

4. Provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation online

Sign-language

When implementing accessibility options, another possibility to consider is online ASL events. ASL interpreters translate for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, allowing them to consume spoken content and join discussions.

5. Create accessible slide decks 

Slide decks display crucial information, pictures, and videos, bringing your ideas to life. There are several features you can implement to make presentations more accessible:
  • Readable font size: Small, intricate fonts aren’t ideal as these can be difficult to read, especially since your attendees will participate from varying screen sizes. Instead, opt for larger, simpler fonts that participants can skim.
  • Contrast colors: The color of your text should have a sharp, noticeable contrast to its background, allowing virtual event attendees can read the letters clearly. Use external tools to measure the contrast ratio and tweak the colors accordingly.
  • Alt text on images: Alt text provides detailed information about your images. Visually impaired participants can rely on these descriptions to get a complete overview of each slide.
  • Clear language: While every industry has jargon, choose clear and concise language that won’t alienate nonnative English speakers or persons with cognitive impairment.
  • Digital copies: In case attendees want to review the presentation after your virtual event, distribute PDFs or other online documents. Everyone processes information differently, and having access to a hard copy of the presentation will help your audience feel seen. 

6. Describe images and videos 

Whenever possible, verbally describe certain elements as you go through your slides. For instance, if you present a bar graph, explain your insights in greater detail. Or if you display a video, summarize its visual components to paint a picture for those who can’t see it. 

7. Offer video recordings and transcripts

When you share a video recording and a transcript, you allow participants who can’t stay for the entirety of the virtual event to catch up on the content they missed or enjoy your event at their own pace. Additionally, when you publish your recording online, you’ll boost visibility and bring in more traffic—which, in turn, leads to a greater turnout for future virtual events. 

Promote your virtual events with Twilio SendGrid 

Virtual events are here to stay. Plus, these enable people all over the globe to access experiences they wouldn’t be able to attend in person. Accessibility features enhance virtual events, not just for persons with disabilities but everyone involved—and lead to win-win situations that benefit attendees and organizers alike. 

With Twilio SendGrid’s email service, you can promote your virtual events and trust that the right information will land in the right inbox at the right time. Whether you need reliable email deliverability or tools to build an accessible email template, SendGrid has a multifaceted solution to help you maximize your reach. 

Try our platform yourself for free!

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