Access is an ever-evolving area, especially within the online space.
Accessible Arts have published a very handy Top 10 Tips For Running Accessible Online Events
- Access needs to be included. If you are running an event, you are responsible for access. This is a legal responsibility, so no excuses.
- Consider what access to provide. Whether you’re hosting a webinar, live performance, exhibition, or tutoring, you’ll want to consider including Auslan interpreting, captioning, and audio description. Check your online platform’s provisions for including access services in real time and after the event. You can find a list of service providers here.
- Auto-captioning can be hit and miss. Some online platforms generate automatic captions when uploading videos. While convenient, these captions will often contain errors so be sure to take the time to edit for a perfect result.
- Think about format. Best practice is to always consider a variety of communication and information sharing styles. Be sure to have a variety of ways people can engage with your event. It’s easy for online events to turn into talk fests, which are not everyone’s preferred method of communicating and engaging. Consider how you can engage in a variety of ways (e.g. live chats, activities, etc).
- Think about length and time. How long is your online event? Online events can be tiring for everyone. Have you considered having shorter sessions and/or included regular breaks? What time is your event?
- Ensure all materials used within the session are accessible. If you’re using a PowerPoint, ensure it’s accessible by removing unnecessary text and borders, and making headings 44pt and body text 32pt. Always use sans serif fonts. Be aware, PDFs are generally not accessible to a screen reader. Always provide Word document versions alongside any PDFs provided.
- Provide detailed access information to both audience and presenters prior to your event. Alert your audience to any specific login requirements for easy access within the online platform you are using. Remind presenters to be inclusive in their approach and to speak simply, directly and clearly, and at a good pace for Auslan interpreters and captioning.
- Let people know about the access you’re providing. Communicating what access is available is key to delivering inclusive events. Let audiences know what you can and cannot provide for them. Be open and straightforward about what you do and any limitations this may have. Actively market your event to people with disability and this will grow and diversify your audiences. Include an email and phone contact and then they can ask if they need more info or a further adjustment too.
- Consider post-event access. Are you recording the event? Will transcriptions be made available? Some platforms such as Zoom Pro include automatic recording and transcription delivered straight to your email address.
- Representation matters. Access is also about what you program, who you invite to speak, and what your content is. Does it involve people with disability? Is it relevant to people with disability? And have people with disability been involved in designing and shaping the program in any way?
Accessible Arts is the peak arts and disability organisation across New South Wales. For more info, see their work on https://www.aarts.net.au/