Ticking the accessibility boxes for conferences and events, online, hybrid and in person, is a good start. But there is another world of accessibility to consider beyond wheelchair access and captioning. And the move to hybrid conferencing has added another layer of complexity to consider. However, online attendance has advantages for people who are unable or unwilling to attend a live event.
A previous post covers the many parts of planning and inclusive online conferences, but there was one more thing to think about. First, this only works if the attendee has at least some basic digital literacy. The way that event programs are displayed on conference websites is the first step. Can everyone understand the format and how to follow it? Can they understand the topic titles and what the presentations will be about. Plain language is good, but for some people with low literacy levels, Easy English is a great help.
For an example of Easy English, have a look a the Australian Society for Intellectual Disability conference website from 2021. At the top of the page there are six “buttons” for the Easy English versions of information about the conference.
- What time do you start?
- Steps to join the conference.
- How to use the conference website.
- Day 1. What is on?
- Day 2. What is on?
- You can listen to the talks at any time.
Managing more than one browser or screen is tricky for many people. Concurrent sessions complicate matters further. Then there are plenary rooms, break-out rooms, and hallways. Just knowing how to put something in the chat box can be a challenge. So when planning an online (or live) event, it’s good to check assumptions about both digital and general literacy of attendees.