Why are we talking about Accessibility?
According to the United Nations, around 15 percent of the world’s population, an estimated 1 billion people, live with disabilities. So, it makes sense that we want to make our personal and professional lives accessible, and that includes your events! This Blog series is here to raise awareness, educate and spread positive improvements for everyone. You don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s okay!
When we think of accessibility, we maybe first think of mobility and access needs but there is so much more that we can do to make our events accessible for everyone! During this series we will be considering accessibility for Mobility, Visual and Hearing Impairments, as well as Cognitive Disabilities, Neurodivergent Conditions, and mental health conditions.
Making your events and venues accessible doesn’t mean additional costs or, “cost the world” with your company’s sustainability efforts. It’s the little things that can truly make the difference, from the registration process, all the way to the post-event engagement.
Website & Registration Process Setup
One of the first things your attendees will experience with your event, is the website & registration process. In the United Kingdom, 75 percent of the companies of the FTSE 100 Index on the London Stock Exchange do not meet basic levels of web accessibility, thus missing out on more than $147 million in revenue (Source).
Here at Cvent, we continuously update our technologies to help you create more accessible events and meetings. This includes allowing planners to:
- Add alternative text to images for people using Assistive Technologies, such as screen readers
- Updated the Attendee Hub designer to let you know when color combinations don’t meet accessibility guidelines and to add your own accessibility tools directly into the Attendee Hub Sessions
- Our technology is compatible with most 3rd party accessibility technology.
- Adding Presentations and Material for your session pre-event
Accessibility isn’t just for the in-person events and registration process; this also includes your virtual event elements. In your session descriptions you can indicate if the sessions will have captions, will be available on demand, and tips on which adapted technology they can utilize for their virtual experience.
The Registration Process is the perfect place to ask accessibility needs and requirements. However, don’t forget to be careful with your attendee’s data (GDPR & CCPA). We can also give suggestions such as if they need an interpreter, an aisle seat, or anything else that will make their experience better. You may also need to add session questions to your registration process such as if they need to sit near the front of the room for visibility or hearing impairments, have an aisle seat or any other relevant questions to your session.
Accessibility questions you may want to ask your attendees:
- Do you require captions?
- Do you require a sign language interpreter? You may also want to add a sub-question asking if they need a different language to the event’s default language
- Will you be accompanied by a service animal or Personal Care Assistant (PCA)?
- Do you need wheelchair and/or Step-Free access?
- Do you need a quiet zone for respite?
- This gives you an idea of how large the room may need to be or how many rooms you will need to setup.
Website & Registration Process Content
Aside from the registration & session questions, there is a lot of thoughtful content we can add to our website and registration process too. Adding a FAQ Page on Registration Website for attendees to know their accessibility options before registering will be really helpful!
In-person FAQ Suggestions:
- Detailing where the Disabled Parking is located and how many spaces there are
- Travel Routes from the local airports that are accessible
- Detailing different Step-free routes for bus, train, and taxis near the venue, don’t forget to add estimated timings!
- Step-by-step guides for in-person Attendees, Speakers, and Exhibitors that are downloadable and assistive technology compatible
Not all events are in-person. Have a think about adding step-by-step guides for your virtual Attendees, Speakers and Exhibitors that can be downloaded and is Assistive Technology compatible. You can hide the guides to certain registration types, learn more on Hiding Your Event's Webpages here.
- Accessible Toilets
- Quite Zones
- Nearest help desks
- Nearest Defibrillators
- Rooms to take medication
Some people struggle with written information and instructions for a multitude of reasons. A great way to provide information is to share walk-through videos with subtitles by using the Cvent Video Editor, Zooms Auto-Transcription Feature and Using the Video Library. Doing these types of walk-through videos can really help attendees with visible & hidden disabilities, Mental Health Conditions, Neurodivergent Conditions and Cognitive Disabilities really prepare for the event.
These videos can include the topics of:
- A video of how to get to the venue from the local bus and train stations.
- A walk through of the venue and show key points such as where to check-in, toilets and helps desks will be located.
- Getting from key areas of your event such as main session hall, appointment rooms and to the nearest toilets from these key areas (including Accessible toilets)
Pre-Event Marketing & Communications
As we all know, communications and Marketing doesn’t stop once the attendee has registered. We want to keep attendees engaged before the event too. I recommend creating a dedicated accessibility email address for your event, where attendees can reach out to the event team with any questions they may have and help them prepare for on the day!
We recommend sending your “Know before you Go” email 24-48 hours before your event start date and time. For attendees using public transport to get to your event, checking their emails on the train is almost guaranteed, alleviating pre-event anxiety and refreshing memories on the different components of your event is a nice touch!
Include important updates in your “Know Before you Go” email, including a link to your FAQ page on the website, the accessibility email address for further questions and steps on how to download your event app!
We will be releasing the next addition of this blog series on a weekly basis! Tune in next week to catch up on “Accessibility in Events Blog: Part 3 |On the Day Thoughts for Attendees”
Missed last weeks addition? You can read up on this here: “Accessibility in Events Blog: Part 1 |Pre-Event Thoughts for Initial Planning of your Events & Meetings”