Catherine Grinyer

January 19, 2022

Virtual Event Platforms and Accessibility, A Quick Guide

Over the pandemic many of us have become accustomed to the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meets for work calls and social catch ups. Each of these everyday platforms can also be used to host virtual events such as webinars, conferences or even award ceremonies. This is a quick guide virtual event tools available within each of these platforms as well as how they allow you to improve the accessibility of your event.

Zoom

When it comes to hosting a virtual event on Zoom there are a number of format options within the platform. These include Zoom Events, Zoom Meetings, and Zoom Webinars (subject to monthly or annual licence fees).

Zoom Meetings

Zoom meetings is the most basic of Zoom tools that many of us have grown familiar with. It offers a capacity of 1,000 participants and the ability for attendees to keep their microphones and cameras on. This makes it a good choice for more smaller scale events where audience interaction is required or encouraged.

Zoom Webinars

Unlike Zoom Meetings, the Zoom webinar function gives the host the control over who is able to have their microphone and/ or camera on. It also has a capacity of up to 50,000 view only attendees and 100+ interactive panellists. This makes it a good option for more presentation-based events with larger audiences.

Zoom Events

Zoom Events offers the combined benefits of both Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinars alongside its own features. These include event management tools relating to registration, ticketing and reporting. The flexibility and choice of this package make it great for large scale events where you’re looking for a combination of interaction and not.

What accessibility features does Zoom have?

Zoom has a host of accessibility features including accessibility settings that allow you to control the size of the font within chats, screen reader support, keyboard shortcuts, automatic transcripts and the ability to pin videos. Not all the accessibility features have been rolled out to Zoom Events, you can’t add ALT Text to images on the platform yet, but we’ve been told it’s coming soon!

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams has the capabilities to host webinars and virtual events for up to 1,000 attendees as well as the ability to broadcast to up to 10,000. With the dynamic 365 marketing add on you can send personalised follow up emails and follow the customer journey of your attendees to help you learn from each of your events.

The Microsoft Teams virtual event solution allows you to build a custom landing page, exhibitor microsite as well as reporting on attendance. This means you can flesh out your event into a complete virtual experience, similar to the offering of an in-person event. This is useful if you have a large number of attendees from different organisations or when you wish to host multiple sessions throughout your event. It also allows for both audience interaction and host controls when managing large audiences.

What accessibility features does Microsoft Teams have?

Microsoft Teams allows you to magnify screen content, use high contract colour, change your background, utilise captions, record meetings and also generates transcripts.

Google Meet

Google Meet is included within the Google Workspace package. In addition to hosting meetings of up to 250 participants, you can also live stream events to up to 100,000 people. Additional features include the ability to introduce breakout rooms, conduct polls, use a whiteboard and manage who of your participants can speak. Google Meets is particularly useful when conducting virtual events within your organisation or when hosting an event that relies on attendee interaction. Attendees can instantly click through to the meeting regardless of whether they have a Google account.

What accessibility features does Google Meets have?

Google Meets accessibility features include live captions, screen readers and magnifiers, and keyboard shortcuts.

Each of the discussed platforms offer a variety of features and benefits to help you successfully host a virtual event that is enjoyable, engaging and accessible. Choose your platform depending on the capacity of your event, how much interaction you require and the needs of your attendees. Ask attendees in advance if they wish to share any accessibility requirements and ensure these are met.

It can always be useful to record an event or individual session for anyone who may want a recap. Here at Attendable we have experience working with all three platforms across a range of events and would be more than happy to assist you in any way we can.

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