For any event, whether virtual or in-person, it is important to create and deliver all your content with accessibility and inclusion in mind. Doing this means your event reaches the broadest and most inclusive audience possible, giving you maximum impact.
Over the last couple of years there has been a huge surge in the number of virtual events or Live Streams that are broadcast live (or pre-recorded as live) to a digital platform such as website, or a social media channel.
When it comes to Live Streams there are a variety of different barriers to accessibility and inclusion that disabled people can experience. Overlooking these barriers can prevent access for disabled people, and none of us wishes to put on an event that excludes as many as one in five of your audience.
Making events accessible is what we do here at Attendable, and we’re passionate about sharing best practice and our top tips for delivering accessible Live Stream events.
Get your technology to work for everyone
- Start with the basics, your network connection for a Live Stream is make or break! Make sure that it is strong and stable and test ahead of time.
- Consider the accessibility features of your chosen streaming platform before you commit to it. Then make sure any users who may benefit from these are aware of and comfortable how to use them ahead of time.
- Include live captions and sign language interpretation with the professional accessibility production tool AccessLoop.
- If your budget allows, invest in a really good AV production team. If it doesn’t check out cost-effective streaming tools like StreamYard, which can be used by complete beginners and works well with AccessLoop.
- Factor in some time – and budget – for a tech rehearsal with your captions provider, sign interpreters and your AV team.
- And, if you want to include an audience participation option, make sure there is a live chat function on your platform or consider using the Slido Q&A app.
Make sure everyone is prepared
- Consider the accessibility requirements of everyone taking part and how you can support them. If you have a speaker with a hearing or sight impairment, how will they participate in the rehearsal and live session? Have you booked enough time with your captions provider to support the rehearsal? Do you know how a blind speaker would access the audience questions?
- Provide your captioners and sign interpreters with as much content preparation as possible, it is even a good idea to do a glossary of terms for more technical or specialist topics.
- Brief your speakers ahead of time. Make sure everyone is reminded to speak one at a time, speak clearly and at a regular and consistent pace for interpretation and captions.
- Provide a written version of information delivered (timings of event, content to be delivered, accessible joining instructions etc) in advance of your event. Also provide a contact for support if any attendees have difficulties with joining or attending.
- Make sure that for written content, you are using clear fonts in considered size and colour, with high contrast text.
- Within content itself, try to avoid too many acronyms or jargon terms. Specialised terminology which needs to be used should be explained.
- Provide live audio descriptions of any purely visual content and ask any speakers to fully describe what’s going on in any supporting images they use “live” as they present.
- Schedule in regular breaks in your session.
Think about ‘watchability’
You may have a vision for your Live Stream with lots of lovely aesthetic features, but you need to consider how complex slides or intricate branding may actually get in the way of some of your audience engaging with your brand. When it comes to what is on screen, keep things clean and simple and let your brand’s inclusive values shine through.
- Keep any visual content to a minimum and Consider any visual distractions such as backgrounds, filters etc, which can be good for branding but distracting and unhelpful to neurodiverse attendees.
- Ensure you have constant (no strobes or flashes) and well sourced lighting to an appropriate level. Dim lighting can be unhelpful for partially sighted people and back lighting can prevent a sign language interpreter from being seen well.
- Seek feedback from your audience as you go, if possible. Sometimes a simple fix such as asking speakers to step back from microphones or to speak more slowly, will improve attendees listening experience greatly.
There is a strong business case for making your Live Streams more accessible and inclusive. Not only will you reach a wider audience, there are added benefits to including accessibility features such as captions. Accessibility works for everyone, older people, neurodiverse people, people with English as a second language and anyone watching your stream in an environment where they need to have the sound off. Providing multi-language captions can draw in an international audience, but it also supports deaf and hard of hearing people internationally too.
We hope that these tips will enable you to offer a fully accessible Live Stream experience to the audience for your next event. For further guidance on accessibility and inclusion, reach out to us at Attendable today.