4 Ways to Create an Inclusive and Accessible Virtual Event

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Events are a favorite marketing tactic for many businesses. It’s a good way to simultaneously increase awareness of your business and demonstrate the quality of the products or services you offer. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a general migration of these events – instead of being held in physical spaces, they take place online.

It can take time to adapt to the practice of holding virtual events, and having to tackle a variety of technical issues you may not be familiar with, meaning some important finishing touches might be left by the wayside. One important component many businesses overlook is making their virtual events inclusive and accessible. 

Making your event inclusive and accessible isn’t necessarily difficult, but it might slip down your priority list – especially if you’re struggling to adapt to virtual events in the first place. Luckily, we’re here to help. Below, you can find four strategies that can ensure inclusivity and accessibility for every virtual event   

1. Make Your Information Accessible

The first thing you should check when creating an online event is whether your message is actually going to reach your audience. If your audience includes individuals with sensory problems, you’ll need to go the extra mile to make sure your message is received. 

For example, you may need to adjust any PowerPoint slides or visual aids if your audience has visual impairments. Text should be displayed in a large font  (24-point minimum) with a high contrast background (white on black works best). Graphics should also be large and clear.

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For those with poor hearing, audio-only presentations may be difficult to understand, so consider hiring a sign language interpreter. If this is too expensive, live captions or subtitled videos might provide a cheaper alternative. 

Accessibility shouldn’t just be a goal for your virtual events. It’s fairly easy to adjust your website content to include things like closed captions, so you should take steps to make sure you have an accessible website, too. 

2. Pick an Accessible Online Location

Select the platform you host your event on carefully. Having your event on a virtual platform that is difficult or complicated to access is a bad plan whether you’re trying to be accessible or not. 

As such, you should research various virtual platforms to ensure that the one you pick is easily accessed. Check if a platform requires an account to log in (social media, for example) or needs supplemental hardware (such as a webcam). It’s also essential that you have a way of facilitating engagement during virtual events

Choose a platform that allows your attendees to ask questions easily, and don’t forget to ensure these communications channels are also readily accessible.

If you’re using videoconferencing software to hold your event, try to pick one where attendees can dial in over the phone instead of using a computer. Individuals with a physical disability have a higher unemployment rate (12.6%, as opposed to the unemployment rate of 7.9% for those without disabilities) so they may be unable to afford a computer or internet connection. 

This focus on economic accessibility also helps include those without disabilities who may just be going through financial hardship.

3. Provide Contact Details

When you market your event, detail the accessibility changes you’ve made, and make sure to include a few contact methods as well. If you’ve got attendees who have other needs that you’ve not made preparations for, you need to make sure they can tell you about their needs ahead of time.

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If you’re unable to include contact details ahead of time, you can always take suggestions for future virtual events. Send an email to attendees after the event, and ask what accessibility and inclusivity improvements you can make going forward. 

Customer engagement software might help here, as it will allow you to store the contact details of those who’ve reached out to you. Having their contact details can help you engage with them in the future, which (if done right) can improve your customer experience. If you’re not a customer-based organization, storing contact details can still be useful to improve engagement with your audience at future events.

4. Be Inclusive When Selecting Contributors

If you’re trying to be more inclusive, don’t just talk about it at your event. A great strategy is to actually include speakers that display the inclusivity you’re talking about. You should strive to have contributors from a variety of genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and physical appearances. The diversity of your event contributors directly affects the diversity (and size) of your audience. 

If you’re struggling to attract the interest of speakers, make sure that they’re aware of the platform you’re offering. If they operate a business themselves, emphasize the opportunities for networking and backlinking. If you’ve looked into how to guest blog, you will already have some understanding, as the benefits to your speakers are similar to those of guest blogging – potentially vast improvements in brand awareness and SEO.

Making a Good Virtual Event a Great One

While accessibility and inclusion are both vital, make sure you don’t forget the basics of hosting a virtual event. If you’re holding the event over a video conferencing app, make sure you follow secure video conferencing practices. This will help everything run smoothly, as it can prevent any uninvited guests from joining the event.

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You should also consider the promotion of virtual events. It’s difficult to include everyone in your virtual event if no one shows up. Good marketing is vital, so plaster the date of your event (as well as how to attend) over your social media channels. Consider asking your contributors to share these details as well, or directly contact those who’ve expressed an interest in attending.

Of course, neither promotion nor security matters unless the content of your virtual event is superb. The only way to guarantee that is to make sure it appeals to everyone, and this is impossible unless the event is inclusive and accessible. So follow the tips we’ve listed, and your event is sure to be a success.

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