Accessibility Needs Attention
The COVID-19 Pandemic has provided challenges for many but with social and physical interaction stripped out, day to day life changes had to be made. When a National Lockdown was placed upon us, continuing to engage with your audience became even more important.
With everything moving online, working from home became the norm. But, changes like these don’t come as easy for those who live with learning difficulties or disabilities.
The Virtual and Hybrid Event World
Virtual and hybrid events are a great way of allowing larger audiences to attend, as well as being more accessibile. Virtual events focus on bringing all aspects of an event online, rather than face-to-face and creates an online experience for attendees.
In comparison, a hybrid event has a live event element which runs alongside the virtual experience and allows the audience to interact and engage no matter where they are.
Accessibility at all events should be a priority. We expect events to be accessible for disabled attendees, and the same has to be replicated at hybrid/virtual events.
The move to virtual/hybrid events for disabled attendees comes with its own benefits and challenges. Some of the challenges include continuing to make an online experience interactive and engaging. While a benefit is that an attendee can receive all materials and learning tools before the event begins, as well as being in their own comfortable enviroment.
What is Being Done?
There are many aspects of accessibility that become easier at virtual/hybrid events with more technology becoming available, such as:
- Captions or subtitles for those with hard of hearing difficulties which can be turned into transcripts. Additionally, connecting and communicating with someone who speaks a different language is unheard of, but with captioning this issue can simply be translated to any langauge almost instantly.
- Having a screen directly in front of you when there are host speakers at an event can also benefit those that are hard of hearing, as well as those who suffer from sight loss. With that, BSL (British sign language) can make an event accessible, as it allows the individual a close-up experience. Whereas, if the guest was attending a conference seated at the back, they will likely struggle to see the interpreter and it is almost impossible to depict the facial expressions of interpreters, which is the most important element of BSL .
- You can attend an event from the comfort of your own space. With 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK this method of engagement is welcomed with ease and comfort. Virtual events also require less travel time which can for some be the most stressful part of an event for those with a disability.
What To Consider In The Future
From my experience with working with children living with a disability or learning difficulties the most important element is retaining their attention.
Virtual/hybrid events which focus purely on attendee’s watching a boring, dull powerpoint slide will instantly lose your audience’s attention.
Including more colour, pictures, videos and interactive activities into an event is more likely to maintain a captive audience for the duration of your event.
Why Does This Need To Be Done?
Almost one fifth of Scotland’s population define themselves as disabled – that’s around 1 million people.This is a huge proportion of the population that could be missing out on events, as well as for companies to lose valuable clients and associates.
Virtual/hybrid events have been a welcomed addition to the events industry with many continuing with online events throughout the remaining months of the year and beyond. Disability Equality is still a huge issue in today’s society so making simple changes in an ever-changing industry will only ever attract more attention to an event.
At Panoptic Events, we deliver world-class experiences cross-sector that amaze and inspire. We have the expertise and solutions to design highly effective and engaging live and digital experiential marketing campaigns. You can view our Online Event Experience brochure here. Simply tell us your story, and we will create your legacy. If you would like to find out more about our services, please get in touch at email@example.com.