The Speakers’ Guide to Virtual Event Accessibility
One in four adults in the United States lives with a disability. You may not think that you frequently speak to groups with people with disabilities, but you absolutely do – and will in the future. Many of them have invisible disabilities such as ADHD, PTSD, epilepsy, diabetes, or chronic fatigue so you won’t always be able to tell if someone has a disability.
Speakers play a huge role in making events more accessible for people with disabilities. People attend virtual events to listen to you and view your content. You wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on what you have to share with your attendees, right? Then you’ll need to take a few simple steps to optimize your speaking, environment, and content to make it accessible for everyone.
Here’s how to prepare for your next virtual event session in order to make it accessible to all:
Reduce Background Noise
Try to minimize background noise while you are speaking. Background noise can be distracting for those with ADHD, interfere with captioning, and create difficulty for those with hearing or processing impairments or challenges.
Test your audio and record a few minutes to playback to see if your microphone is picking up any background noise or static. Speakers that plan to stream their sessions from home, particularly those living in apartments or in noisy cities, may need to play around with their setup or find a quiet area to stream from.
Ask everyone to mute themselves during the session and only unmute themselves when they are speaking to ask a question or share a comment. Encourage attendees to “Raise Their Hands” in Zoom or Teams, or request to join the live via Social27 Stream instead of blurting out responses so that you can keep attendee interactions organized.
Speak Slowly and Clearly
In addition to reducing background noise, it’s also important to speak clearly and at a steady pace. On platforms such as Social27 Virtual Event Platform, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, your audio is translated into live captions as you speak. Muffled, rushed, or unclear speech can cause issues with caption accuracy and completeness.
Describe Images or Graphs
If you are showing something on your screen during a session, be sure to describe it. Blind or visually impaired people may be listening to your event, or the recorded version of your event if you plan to make it available for on-demand viewing after your session. They will miss out on key information if you are referring to visual aids but not describing them verbally.
Learn the Platform’s Accessibility Functions
Each virtual event platform or meeting option is a bit different. Speakers should take some time to familiarize themselves with the accessibility features available on each platform that they will be speaking on.
An accessible platform can have a big impact on virtual event accessibility and the attendee experience:
[On Social27 Virtual Event Platform] I had absolutely no issues registering for the conference, picking out the sessions I wanted to add to my personal agenda, downloading calendar invites for them and playing them from the invites. I was able to interact during the sessions using the chat and moderated Q and A features.
Speakers should consider giving a quick overview of accessibility features during their introduction. Alert attendees via notifications that they can turn on the live caption feature if needed and give a quick overview of where to find that setting. It can also be helpful to encourage attendees to share thoughts in the chat if they have a concern or questions related to accessibility.
Make Downloadable Resources Available Before Sessions
If you are screen sharing throughout the session, provide links or downloadable copies of the content that you will be showing on your screen. Screen readers and other assistive technologies often are not compatible with screen sharing.
If you have a PowerPoint that you’ll be using to guide the session, provide a downloadable copy and ensure that alt text is provided for any pictures or graphs used in the PowerPoint. Alt text provides a description of the photo, chart, or other visual aid that can be read by a screen reader so that blind or visually impaired people can understand what is being conveyed by the visual aid.
Monitor the Session Chat
Keep an eye on the session chat and look out for requests or concerns that may arise. You can also appoint a session moderator to help you monitor the chat and bring pertinent comments to your attention throughout the session.
Also be sure to pull questions from the chat during Q&As or anytime you are accepting audience questions or comments throughout the session. Those that are nonverbal, have social anxiety, are deaf, or have other disabilities may need to or feel more comfortable communicating in writing.
Ensure That Any Content You Create Is Accessible
If you are creating content to be shown at the virtual event, ensure that it is accessible. This includes:
- A PowerPoint presentation used to guide the event
- Pre-recorded video content to be used as pre-session content, a simulive broadcast, or for on demand viewing
- Worksheets, information sheets, or handouts that will be distributed to attendees
Take a look at our blog on creating accessible virtual event content to learn how to make adjustments to the font, contrast ratio, graphics, and more to ensure that the content that you present can be enjoyed by the entire audience.
Host an Accessible Event on Social27 Virtual Event Platform
Social27 Virtual Event Platform provides ample accessibility features that allow event speakers to host sessions that are accessible for all attendees. Feel free to explore our accessibility features to learn more about this commitment and the platform’s accessibility features.
Set up a demo to learn more about how we prioritize virtual event accessibility.