Ensuring Virtual Events Are Accessible for All

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing organizations to transition many events and conferences that originally were in-person to virtual ones. The good news is that it is easy to make online events accessible to everyone if you know how. A new toolkit by the national disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility aims to help organizations do so.

recent national inclusion study conducted by RespectAbility, in partnership with The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The Nonprofit Times, found that even before the pandemic, only 14 percent of people say their organizations use video captions to ensure people who are deaf or hard of hearing can use the content. Captioning services are easy to use and often are free and yet 86 percent were not even attempting to take advantage of such tools.

“We know the majority of people want to be inclusive, but they do not know what they do not know,” said RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi.

Ensuring accessibility during the planning process of an event is important; if you are planning to post a video of the event after the fact, you may need to ensure accessibility during the actual event, even if no live participants request one. This is important for several reasons:

  • Twenty percent of people in the U.S. are Deaf/Hard of Hearing; that is 48 million Americans.
  • More than 1 million people in the U.S. are blind and more than 12 million have low vision.
  • More than 5 million people in the U.S. are English language learners.
  • While not everyone knows they have one, it is likely that more than 40 million Americans have a learning disability.

“It is vitally important to think through every step and every use of the event before implementing anything,” said RespectAbility’s Vice President of Communications Lauren Appelbaum who authored the toolkit. “After all, it always is easier to make changes during the planning stages than after the fact.”

This new toolkit includes steps to take before, during and after an event to ensure it is as accessible as possible for all people. Many of the tips do not cost any money to implement.

Download the PDF or accessible Word document or view each section of the toolkit by following the links below:

Want to learn more?

Watch our accessibility and equity webinar series on including people with disabilities in nonprofits and foundations: https://www.respectability.org/accessibility-webinars. To ask a question or add a resource, contact Lauren Appelbaum at [email protected].

Including People with Disabilities in Nonprofits and Foundations: Accessibility & Equity Webinar Series


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