Creating an accessible event benefits not only individuals with visible or known disabilities but also those whose disabilities may not be apparent, or are not disabled. Accessibility also helps to ensure that any participants/attendees have access to event content as per Macalester’s commitment to Universal Design. Check back often as we update this information!
Planning Your Program
Planning and Budgeting for Access
- Check what other campus partners are doing! As we move to virtual events and evening courses, keep in mind competing for “access resources” and bandwidth of students.
- Is there programming can you plan in collaboration with campus partners? Not only does this allow for more students to attend, but more impactful programming.
- When? Check the events calendar but also reach out to other departments to see if larger events are happening.
- Plan ahead to coordinate access pieces–these can take weeks.
- Have you allocated money for possible costs related to accessibility (sign language interpreters, post-production captioning, additional formats for materials, etc.)?
Most event invitations happen via email or social media:
Make a statement! When you publicize events, include a welcome message to let invitees know who to contact about access such as:
“Macalester strives to host inclusive, accessible events that enables everyone, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. To request an accommodation or inquire about accessibility, please contact (department name, email, phone).”
You may also choose to use a Google Form for requests.
Invitations (including social media) may have multiple graphical elements:
- Ensure that images and logos have alt text – image descriptions – for people who are blind and use screen readers.
- Provide document attachments/invites as word documents or accessible PDF formats.
- It is reasonable to set a deadline for access requests that require coordination of outside resources (e.g. sign language interpreters, live captioning). For very large programs (300+) it is recommend to provide real time captions, but maintain requests for interpreters.
- Offer an option for attendees to dial in by phone, so people who do not have internet access can participate.
- Offering invites via social media?
Share as much information as you can about the event ahead of time in order to assist attendees:
- How long, what format (will participants be viewing or expected to participate?) Can attendees turn off video?
- Encourage attendees to send questions or comments in advance, and presenters to share Powerpoints or outlines if possible. Share these with interpreters or live captioners for accuracy in messaging.
- Will there be a chance for Q and A?
- Will a captioned recording be provided after the event?
Prior to the Event
Ensure accessible elements are in place:
- Coordinate support services:
- If you need like a live captioner (or one is requested), either contact Disability Services or coordinate on your own–departments do not need to work through Disability Services to arrange for captioning. Departments are charged for real-time interpreting/captioning.
- Auto captioning options: Platforms like Zoom support auto captioning options like Otter.ai and Verbit. Auto captioning is generally not sufficient for individuals who need accurate captioning as a primary language but can serve as good adjunct support.
- Ensure Lighting and backgrounds show facial features and don’t make panelists ‘fade’ into the background.
- Reformat documents so they are accessible.
- Plan a rehearsal time prior to the event (even 30 minutes before) for a technical practice. If there are captioners or interpreters, ensure they are invited to the practice as well!
During The Event
- Give a general overview/order of the event both verbally and visually.
- Introduce all participants (or have them introduce themselves); name that it is being live captioned and/or interpreted and how to access these elements.
- Consider your pace in speaking and allow for pauses.
- If there is a chat window attendees can see, ensure you are reading the questions/comments and stating they are from the chat screen.
- Screens (or slides) can’t be read by a screen reader, seen by someone with a visual limitation, or on the phone! When you’re presenting or calling out something on the screen, read the most important points and describe your images and your charts.
- When wrapping up your presentation, name where additional information can be provided