This document was created to provide a helpful resource for planning accessible and inclusive remote events at the University of Michigan.
Below are some recommendations that can be applied to any type of remote event.
- When planning your event, factor the costs of captioning (~$110-$140/hr), sign language interpretation (~$45-$140/hr), and other potential accommodations into your budget.
- Costs are dependent upon how long the event is, the vendor you use, how much notice you give the vendor, and the range of accommodations needed. Also keep in mind that oftentimes many accommodations have no associated costs.
- Review the Videoconferencing and Digital Accessibility at the University of Michigan page to understand how to set up conferencing to ensure accessibility needs are met. This document also covers how to set up captioning and provides contact information for companies providing captioning/ASL services.
- If you are sending out calendar/online invitations for your event, please include:
- Meeting links or login codes
- Agendas and expected outcomes
- The format of the event (e.g., discussion vs. presentation)
- The anticipated event run-time
- A guide to the different technology that will be used during the event. For example, if you plan to use the breakout rooms feature in Zoom, include information in the guide explaining the feature and why it is being utilized.
- Also try to include list of keyboard shortcuts for the technology(e.g., Zoom, Bluejeans) that will be used
- The presentation slides that will be used.
- Include explanations in the notes field of the calendar invitation
- Let attendees know how you will share the slides during the event.
- Accessibility Information
- Contact information for the person in charge of responding to access needs and questions
- Include an accessibility statement that gives attendees the opportunity to request accommodations in advance: “Please let us know how we can ensure that this event is inclusive to you. What accommodations or access needs can we help facilitate?”. This statement should also describe any accommodations that will be provided proactively and include a reasonable deadline for requesting accommodations.
- A backup communication plan (see below)
- A language/Terminology guide (see below)
- Send invitations early enough to schedule captioning and/or ASL interpreters, as well as to coordinate responses to specific accommodation requests
- Send invitations to the captioning provider or others involved with accessibility accommodations so that they can familiarize themselves with the context of the event and gain access to materials like the agenda and language/terminology guide. By providing this information, the provider can program in words and acronyms into their software ahead of time.
- Plan in breaks during and between activities
- Consider creating a backup communication plan in case you have trouble connecting with attendees on the day of the event
- For example, you can let attendees know that in case of technical issues on the side of the attendees, the event will be recorded and shared after the event ends. For issues on the side of the host, this plan can include whether the event will be rescheduled or recorded at another time.
- In general encourage all hosts, speakers, and attendees to avoid the use of jargon.
- If your event is about a given topic, try to provide a language/terminology guide to achieve equal understanding among attendees, speakers, and hosts.
- If the event will be interactive, allow attendees to send questions and comments in advance.
- Make accommodations to record your event. This will allow for transcription and will also be helpful for attendees who want to revisit content that may have been covered in the event.
- If using real-time captioning, be sure to send the meeting materials and terminology guide ahead of time so they have time to review in advance of your event.
- Follow accessibility best-practices when creating documents and presentations for your event. To learn more about these best practices please review our guide on Accessible Digital Documents.
- Develop accessibility guidelines for presenters that includes content like how to create accessible digital documents and conduct remote sessions. This will help set presenter expectations and ensure that the presenter is creating an experience that all attendees can enjoy.
- This document can serve as a starting point for accessibility guidelines; additions should be made depending on the nature of the event.
- It may be helpful to create a similar set of guidelines for attendees that includes information on how to participate in the event.
Day of Event
- Do a practice run with the technology that is being used for the event. This will help you identify and resolve any issues before the event.
- Speakers and hosts should set up their computers ahead of time. This includes opening any applications and documents that will be used during the event and closing all other tabs, windows, and programs.
- If you are using real-time captioning, meet the captionist early on so you can set up the technology for them to do their work
- Start and end the meeting on time.
- Speakers and hosts should arrive in the meeting room a few minutes early to welcome attendees as they arrive.
- Designate an accessibility point person during the meeting to:
- If applicable, announce that captioning is available and provide instructions so attendees can view it. In Zoom meetings, attendees should select “Show Subtitle”.
- Remind attendees, hosts, and speakers to state their name before speaking
- Monitor (and read aloud) messages in the chat (if used)
- After the event, offer your attendees and speakers the opportunity to provide feedback about the accessibility of the event. This feedback will be helpful as you plan your next remote event.
- Make sure your audio is clear; poor audio quality can make it hard for people to access the event and/or use apps that can help reduce background noise on calls.
- If possible, encourage attendees and hosts who are speaking to use a headset.
- Mute anyone who is not speaking. This will help to reduce background noise and provide a better listening experience.
Make sure all video is at eye-level for speakers/hosts/attendees that will be talking during the event. If you are using a webcam, it should not be mounted or located in a high mount or random corner.
- Be mindful in deciding whether or not to allow video for all attendees. Having all attendees display their video may be an overwhelming experience for many people and increases the cognitive load on everyone involved. The National Geographic covers this phenomenon in their article 'Zoom fatigue' is taxing the brain. Here's why that happens.
Tips for Participation
- Whenever someone speaks, they should start by saying their name so that all attendees can easily identify who is speaking. This will also help the event captioner (if applicable) accurately document the content of the event.
- During interactive events, have the host/speaker repeat questions before answering them. To facilitate this process, it may be helpful to utilize the chat feature for question submissions.
Conducting Remote Training
The following recommendations apply specifically for planning remote training events. Please keep in mind that many of the recommendations made above should also be followed for remote training.
- Create a training guide to accompany any remote instruction. This guide should cover the main discussion points as well as any important resources or information that would have been conveyed via video.
- Provide attendees with links to additional learning resources as attendees may want to learn more about training topics later on at their own pace.