Virtual and hybrid events continue to become more the norm than the exception due to the relatively low costs involved, the potential to have a broader audience of participants, and the ability to provide virtual attendees with a rich interactive event experience.
However, just like with in-person events, event planners should take steps to accommodate attendees with special accessibility needs. This includes people who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, foreign language speakers, or have intellectual, developmental, or mobility issues.
Fortunately, assistive technology and policies offer solutions to keep your virtual events as inclusive as possible. Of course, access needs aren’t universal, so your event must employ different tools to ensure all attendees have no problems registering for, viewing, or participating in your event.
Be proactive with accessibility technology
Having better assistive technology starts with asking for the accessibility needs of your audience upon registration so you have ample time to arrange the required accommodations.
During the registration process, you should provide a link to a separate form where attendees can enter their accommodation requests. A simple question like, “Are there any disability accommodations you need us to provide for you to fully participate in this event?” with a text box to enter the information is all that’s needed.
Based on the information you gathered at registration, you can begin integrating the accessibility options into your event platform. Here are some solutions you can use to accommodate these requests.
Attendees who are deaf or hard of hearing
Closed captioningAutomated closed captioning technology has made significant strides in recent years to transcribe audio as accurately as possible. You can also use a live transcriber if you prefer. Ensure your audience can turn this function on or provide detailed, plain-language instructions on how to access it.
American Sign Language (ASL)
Some of your attendees might be more comfortable with ASL than captions. You may need to hire an ASL interpreter to provide this option. Most virtual event platforms will have split screen or picture in picture functionality installed so the ASL interpreter can be easily seen.
In both cases, there are some best practices you should follow to ensure accurate closed caption transcription or ASL translation:
- Ensure your audio is clear with as little background noise as possible (many video conferencing platforms come with background noise reduction features)
- Ask your presenters to speak at a pace that allows for accurate ASL translation
- Keep all presenters on mute until it’s their turn to speak
A professional audio production company can provide the best possible results.
Attendees who are blind or visually impaired
Narration /described video
Provide narrative descriptions for people who cannot see the action on the screen. For example, if someone is about to use a whiteboard, have them say, “Let’s go to the whiteboard to read the agenda,” and then have them read it aloud. Take the approach as if you’re addressing someone who can hear you but isn’t in the same room.
Provide verbal voting or polling instructions
Use the same narrative approach to describe voting or polling options, plus instructions on how attendees can make their selection.
Attendees who do not speak the native language
Multilingual opening slide
Your opening greeting should include all of the languages requested by attendees and instructions on accessing the multilingual translation tool.
Automated multilingual captions
You can create a more personalized, inclusive event that can significantly expand your audience with AI-generated closed captions or verbal translations during your live stream. Allow attendees to preselect their preferred language and get the most out of your entire event. Using translation technology in the platform is much more cost-effective than hiring multiple translators to translate on the fly, potentially missing important points if they fall too far behind the speaker.
People Who Are Intellectually or Developmentally Disabled
Chatboxes are an excellent option for people to have their questions read aloud in the event by a moderator or AI bot. They can also be used to connect with tech staff if the attendees have any problems navigating the event platform without disrupting the event itself.
For in-person/hybrid events
You can also utilize accessibility tools during the in-person component of your hybrid event. Monitors can be set up to provide auditory aids such as closed captions or ASL for those who require them.
Also, your physical space should provide flat access (no stairs) and accessibility ramps for people with mobility issues.
Many of your virtual or hybrid event attendees – whether they require them or not – will expect to have accessibility options available for a wholly inclusive, barrier-free experience for all.
However, installing and managing the required accessibility technology adds another layer of complexity to running a successful virtual or hybrid event. However, with a professional livestream production team on your side, pulling all the different pieces together is easy.
Partner with the right livestream production team
Whether you’re planning a live in-person, virtual, or hybrid event that requires accessibility solutions, having the right technical professionals working with you behind the scenes is critical to making the overall production much easier for your team.
Your dedicated LiveMeeting production crew has all the technology you need for every type of event. Whether you’re planning a conference, AGM, town hall, or any other livestream, we’ll take care of the production needs so you can simply focus on delivering your message and enjoying your event.
Discover our streaming solution to learn how our cutting-edge technology will elevate your next livestream. Contact us today for a free demonstration!