Inclusive and Accessible Virtual Events

Diversity means recognizing our differences. And in the wake of a global crisis, one fact we must confront feels almost at odds to the unifying nature of this pandemic: Yes, COVID-19 affects everyone – but COVID-19 affects everyone differently.

This is where impactful D&I work comes in. Right now, audiences are asking for two things from company communications: to be responsible and to be mindful. Setting yourself apart doesn’t require the flashiest activation, but rather the most awareness of your responsibility to the audiences you serve, and the most mindful approach to your work.

Here are a few recommendations to ensure your virtual events and activations take all angles into consideration.

Seen and heard

When it comes to accessibility, details matter – particularly the technical ones.

For any video event, follow best practices like providing inclusive transcript and presentation materials that are ADA compliant and available in multiple languages. Basic steps like including written descriptions of presentation images and increasing color contrast to ensure text stands out can make real differences. And tools like Microsoft Presentation Translator can help breakdown language barriers, even if you don’t have in-house translation capabilities. Of course, not all accommodation plans will look the same for every audiences – you can send out a survey to attendees beforehand to make sure that you provide the right materials ahead of time. This will ensure that all virtual event attendees have access to the tools they need to receive information and to engage – it will also help moderators avoid necessary interruptions that have to be addressed mid-presentation.

Consider your audience’s environment

Whether you’re leading an employee-focused session or aiming communication at external stakeholders, remember that what’s convenient for some may not be convenient for others.

Focus on making the timing flexible, so no one is excluded for conflicts that are outside of their control. Give your audience ample time to be prepared – send out links and materials ahead of time and keep all relevant content in the same place. Seemingly simple things like the ability to pause a livestream or access a recording after the fact can be immensely helpful to not only maximize your reach but ensure greater accessibility.

Diverse conversation

A commitment to diversity and inclusion means understanding the inevitability of blind spots; and therefore, knowing the importance of having diverse perspectives. This has always been and will always be the case­ – but during a global crisis, this need is even more essential.

Be sure panel discussions include representations from groups who may be affected by COVID-19 in distinct ways. When sharing employee resources, consider the full range of employee backgrounds before compiling materials. This means ensuring that case studies or examples you may present should reflect the diversity of your intended audience.

Lean into opportunities for unique conversations. You may find that some of your stakeholders, particularly internal stakeholders, are hungry for new ideas and perspectives.

Conclusion

The needs of someone whose job and daily routine have evaporated look very different from the needs of a working parent whose responsibilities have doubled. The telecommuting needs of an employee in an Internet-sparse area are going to look very different from the telecommuting needs of an employee who relies on lip reading to communicate with their colleagues.

With companies rushing to address this crisis, accessibility can be left by the wayside – and with it, large swaths of their audiences. Grand ideas that are inaccessible to your audience will fall flat, and risk undermining other key communications efforts. Now more than ever, it’s especially important to understand the needs of your audience ahead of time, and be flexible and accommodating during events in real time. And request, and act on, feedback from your audience after events, no matter how they are held.

Companies are going to be judged on how they conduct themselves during this time, and an empathetic and mindful approach is one of the most powerful skills in your toolkit.

Inclusive and Accessible Virtual Events

Diversity
means recognizing our differences. And in the wake of a global crisis, one fact
we must confront feels almost at odds to the unifying nature of this pandemic:
Yes, COVID-19 affects everyone – but COVID-19 affects everyone differently.

This is where impactful
D&I work comes in. Right now, audiences are asking for two things from
company communications: to be responsible and to be mindful. Setting yourself
apart doesn’t require the flashiest activation, but rather the most awareness
of your responsibility to the audiences you serve, and the most mindful
approach to your work.

Here are a few
recommendations to ensure your virtual events and activations take all angles
into consideration.

Seen and heard

When it comes
to accessibility, details matter – particularly the technical ones.

For any video
event, follow best practices like providing inclusive transcript …

Continue reading >
 

The latest from the blog

June 8, 2020  by Chris Matthews, Corey Ealons, Lizanne Sadlier

Communicating Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

See all posts >