Stay in Touch
Sign up for my newsletter and be among the first to learn about upcoming events and other news.
Are you an educator or event organizer trying to make your classes or events more accessible to disabled participants? Do you know which guidelines and rules apply to in-person events? Do you know the best practices for making online events as accessible as possible? Are you unsure where to begin? Would you like some help?
Beginning in 2016, I have had the pleasure of lecturing and presenting on sex and disability, and kink and disability, at several universities and conferences. Many times, however, my enjoyment of the event has been marred by the frustrations presented by less than accessible infrastructures — both physical and virtual. For example, it’s common at conferences for educators to ask the audience if it’s okay if the speaker does not use the microphone, so the session feels less formal. These educators who are trying to break down the “formality” barrier, are at the same time erecting barriers for participants who have auditory disabilities. Sadly, those of us who are disabled still encounter disparaging remarks made about the “burden” of accommodations, physical barriers within the event venues, and harmful ableist behavior and language.
Accessibility issues are not exclusive to in-person events. Virtual events can also have barriers to accessibility. Often, web-based conference registration is inaccessible and does not list available accommodations. Frequently, when captioning is available, AI captioning, instead of human (or “live”) captioning, is used. AI captioning is too slow and is highly inaccurate. Virtual presenters almost always fail to describe visuals and sounds because they assume the audience can see and hear. Finally, presenters and attendees tend to use microphones that are not well-suited to virtual events.
In talking with other disabled folks, I found these experiences are still far too common in public accommodations, more than 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Usually, professors and event organizers shared my frustrations. But they were not sure what they could do, or who to contact for help. They often lacked guidelines or a pre-event checklist to which they could refer. Recognizing a need, I set out to help. I began researching international guidelines for physical and virtual education and event spaces. This led to authoring a number of accessibility guides, including “Making Presentations More Accessible,” “Making Events More Accessible,” and “Making It More Inclusive.”
Would you like someone to guide you through an “Accessibility Review” as you plan your next class or event? Reach out; I am here to help make your event a success for you and any disabled participants.