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Is Your Virtual Meeting Accessible?

The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to events both in person and online, so think about the needs of all your attendees.

Online conferences tend to attract many more attendees than their pre-Covid counterparts, but this increased access also demands accessibility. Planners who want to ensure that their virtual meetings are open to all have a new set of considerations around their technology platforms and online materials.

Here are six considerations and two resources to help you dig deeper into the issue:
1. Do you provide closed captions and/or sign-language interpretation of live and prerecorded materials for people with hearing loss?
2. Will your speakers be shown on screen to help people who read lips?
3. Can people with vision impairment access the presentation by phone, and are speakers cognizant that not everyone will be able to see their visual elements?
4. Do you know if the virtual meeting platform you’re using is compatible with screen-reader products?
5. Provide written or visual materials ahead of time in accessible formats.
6. Let attendees know about the format for the event and how long it will run so they can plan needed breaks.

• An Inclusion Insights guide from the Foundation for Electoral Systems compares the accessibility features of the most-used virtual meeting platforms—such as Skype, Zoom and GoToMeeting—and provides good practices for ensuring inclusion.
Rooted in Rights has a comprehensive report on meeting the needs of virtual attendees with disabilities that considers pre- and post-meeting issues as well as accessibility planning for the event itself.

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