In an effort to offer events that are EDIA (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility)-focused, we should consider all of the factors that could possibly limit or exclude a person from attending an event:
- Physical limitations, phobias and/or disabilities
- Cognitive impairments
- Mental health
- Socioeconomic status
- Physical access
- Transportation to event locations
- Up-to-date technology for viewing or engaging
- Comfort-levels around attending in-person events
- Fear of being ‘othered’ or ‘ostracized’ for belonging to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community or another marginalized group
We are going to share our tips on how to make your next event more inclusive below but it is a great idea to communicate the accommodations you are providing to potential attendees through promo materials and initial invites. Once you have ‘set the stage’ for what you are offering, send a survey to your attendees so they can let you know what else they would require.
You don’t know what you don’t know… so you have to ask!
If you are planning an event here are a few key things to consider:
- Use your registration form to gather information about what accommodations need to be made for each attendee.
- Keep in mind these may differ for in-person attendees and virtual attendees.
- Ensure that your physical location is accessible.
- Wheelchair access
- Non-gendered washroom facilities
- Ample space for attendees to distance themselves and/or spaces for attendees to remove themselves from the main event as needed
- Consider offering tiered pricing for virtual attendees vs. in-person attendees to capture a larger audience.
- This captures potential attendees from various geographical locations as well as economic circumstances.
- Provide a glossary of terms that will be used during the event and define them.
- Ensure that content warnings are in place if your speakers, presenters or panelists will be discussing a potentially triggering topic or subject matter.
- For any written content, ensure:
- Fonts are easy to read (text is large and has good colour contrast).
- Pages are organized and uncluttered.
- Meaningful headings are used.
- For images/videos, ensure:
- They help explain concepts.
- Alternative text and descriptions are included and/or they are verbally described.
- Flashing or strobing animations are not used.
- For all content, ensure:
- Plain and people-first language is used (i.e. be mindful of jargon, slang, and assumed knowledge).
- Abbreviations and acronyms are explained.
- Sentences are kept short.
- Features and information are prioritized within the layout, helping attendees focus on core tasks.
- Offer your attendees the opportunity to provide feedback about the event, including accessibility, to help you prepare to plan the next one. Ensure the survey is also accessible.
If your event has a virtual component:
- Ensure your platform:
- Provides a comparable experience for everyone so that people can accomplish tasks in a way that suits their needs without undermining the quality of the content.
- Allows for both computer-based and phone-based audio listening/speaking.
- Is compatible with assistive technology (e.g. screen readers and both augmentative and alternative communication).
- Have an accessibility point person who can assist with troubleshooting or access issues. Be sure to provide contact information for them. Ensure that mental health resources are readily available to this point person, so they are prepared in advance.
- Include detailed, step-by-step directions of how to both log in to the event and how to use the platform. Consider offering training sessions prior to the event on how to use the platform that the event will be hosted on.
- Share the format of the event (e.g. chat discussion vs. video participation vs. listening to a presentation, or something else), when/how attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions, and how long it is planned to run for.
- Communicate any accessibility features available during your event.
- Have your speakers say their name or be introduced when they speak, so captioners and attendees alike all know who is talking.
The most important part of accessibility is making your attendees feel comfortable communicating their needs prior to the event. Many people who feel there is no option provided, will likely feel the need to figure things out for themselves or even avoid events altogether.
Accessibility = removing barriers to access. When we think about how this relates to events, it is critical to identify all of the possible ways in which people can interact with our content. Once that has been established, it’s all about supporting people in digesting that content in the way that feels most comfortable for them.
-Your Tycoon, Lindsay XO