By Paige Dorman
Paige joined the EideCom team as Vice President of Sales after spending 10+ years in various event roles. From event planning at venues, selling trade show booths, working weddings, to executing keynote speeches for 15,000 attendees; there isn’t much of the events world she hasn’t seen. She is most passionate about helping clients craft new & creative ways to engage their audience through impeccable production.
As I speak with more and more of my clients, I keep hearing a recurring sentiment, virtual events are confusing! In order to pull one off, you have to understand so many ins and outs, and the varying interfaces of event platforms doesn’t make it any easier. It’s time to go back to basics, and remember why we organize events in the first place – to honor and provide an incredible attendee experience. We need to make our virtual and hybrid events accessible to audiences.
In order to do this, we have to make sure we are providing every participant with an equal experience. So, when people with disabilities are at your event, it is crucial to build the most inclusive and constructive space for success. Here are a few tips and items to keep in mind when planning an event for your audience.
1. Ask Your Attendees if they Need Accommodations
Sometimes in the heat of the moment, we overlook the simple things. While it’s always important to make events accessible, it is useful and thoughtful to create space for your attendees to make that request. This can be as easy as including a question in your event registration. Or, you can share your planned accommodations with your audience in an email, with an opportunity for responses.
2. Include Closed Captions
This is one of the easiest ways to ensure a comprehensive audience experience. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans are deaf or hard of hearing, and providing closed captions allows attendees access to all of your important content! And this feature doesn’t just apply for pre-recorded content, many real-time transcription services and ASL interpreters are available for virtual and hybrid events.
3. Avoid Strobe/Flashing Effects
One, often overlooked, event feature that can negatively impact your audience are flashing and strobe lights. Many people with epilepsy are light-sensitive, making it extremely difficult to consume content. So, make sure you are conscious of what videos or sizzle reels you include in your program. In any situation, it is best to include a proper disclaimer before the content is presented.
4. Read polls/questions aloud
If your event plans to incorporate polling features, or a live Q&A session, make sure your presenters are reading all of the content out loud. This includes all questions, and the replies from other attendees. Taking this simple step allows people with learning disabilities the time and space to process all of your questions, and will encourage more engagement!
Those of us in the events industry are all about creating great experiences for our audiences, and that means thinking about the attendee experience from every perspective. If you have any questions, or want to learn more about how to make your next virtual or hybrid event more accessible, connect with us today!