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Want better results? Make your event more accessible.

August 4, 2023


Simply stated accessible communications in every form is good for business. In today’s increasingly globalized and interconnected world, being able to communicate effectively and efficiently matters. It allows people to better understand your message, share ideas with others, and enables all attendees to participate for better outcomes.

Since the success of a conference, meeting, or special event typically requires sharing information and encouraging attendees to connect, preparing for multiple methods of presentation has become the norm. Multiple means of delivering “what is said” is becoming increasingly common, as we sincerely seek to comply with disability issues by adding American Sign Language and on-screen captioning.

Thirty years ago when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, compliance issues correctly focused on the most immediate needs, such as removing physical barriers to structures and ensuring fairness in the delivery of public goods and services. But, there has never been a one-size-fits-all solution for presentation compliance, as businesses vary in their available resources.

Overlooked ADA Areas of Business Compliance

Similar to other movements in the United States, there were tens of thousands of people who fueled the disability rights movement. Without the dedication and commitment of so many, the lobbying, negotiating, filing of lawsuits, drafting of legislation or being arrested at protests, the Americans with Disabilities Act would not exist today. Since the 1990 signing ceremony of the ADA at the White House, the disability rights movement has made centuries-long injustices highly visible to lawmakers and the American public.

The ADA prohibits discrimination through codification of justice for people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to government services. Most of the early attention of ADA focused on enforcing provisions enacted to eradicate discriminatory policies in hiring practices and access to public-funded places. In 2010, the Department of Justice revised the final regulations to include communication disabilities to ensure equality for messaging at in-person events as well as virtual events.

Plan Ahead to Ensure Accessibility

As mentioned earlier, ADA compliance officials have never tried to apply a one-size-fits-all solution for various entities to follow but many .gov, .edu and .org websites have expounded upon concepts for a broad range of methods of delivery. If you are planning a webinar or producing online videos, check out the University of Colorado (Boulder) Digital Accessibility Office for your virtual event. Likewise, accessibility practices and guidelines are available for anyone planning an in-person event. Presented below are accessibility best practices to ensure the effective delivery of your messaging to all segments of your audience. Here are things to do that will enable your audience, such as:

1) Offer Resources – Encourage prospective attendees to contact you about providing for any specific needs. Printing copies of your presentation or sharing a link to materials ahead of time can help. Human created live captioning and American Sign Language or ASL interpretation are being included in all large monolingual and multilingual presentations today.

2) Review ADA Guidelines – This blog has provided several links to ADA resources that outline compliance issues for specific communications disabilities for both in-person and virtual presentations. Online presenters must remember to give all users ample time to participate in the meeting, training sessions, or event. Although some regulations may not apply, there are numerous sources for guidance.

3) Content Accessibility – Since your audience and online users likely includes individuals with visual, auditory, and cognitive disabilities, it is critical that each recipient understands the information you’re delivering in the way that you intended. Two differing areas of importance include captioning and sign language as well as describing meaningful visual element.

4) Check Sound Quality – The audio quality of the event facility is important for all audience members but especially hearing-impaired attendees. So, choosing the right site can make a difference. Portable listening systems using portable transmitters and digital RF receivers offer an affordable solution for clearly hearing your message.

5) Verbal Painting – Attendees who are visually impaired will appreciate your thoughtfulness in verbally describing all meaningful visual content referenced during your presentation. Use embedded narratives and practice you narration describing visual content audibly as you practice delivering your presentation. Encourage other presenters to do the same.

6) Provide Assistance – At ProLingo, we have been helping companies and organizations for decades to host meetings and events from in-person large conferences to private multilingual meetings. It has been our experience that success often comes down to the professionalism of providing assistance to attendees who have difficulty translating, hearing, or seeing.

ADA compliance with regulations for Communications Titles are enforced as business specific. For content presentations both in-person and online, the mandated expectations are different for an enterprise-level organization with readily available resources and a small business. In addition, you can visit ADA.gov for updated information on Title II Web and Mobile App Accessibility regulations. Watchdog groups usually notify companies about compliance issues to be corrected on their website or social media platforms.

As it has already been suggested, making your message more accessible is one of the easiest tweaks for improving the return-on-investment for meetings, events, rollouts, training sessions, online videos, virtual meetings, conferences, facility tours, etc. For further reading, click on the Accessible Meeting Event Checklist provided by Cornell University. It provides very common sense and practical guidance for creating, delivering and managing your presentation. A smart meeting or presentation is all about making sure your attendees have equal access to your content. The extra steps you take ahead of time can allow everyone to participate.

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As a planner or presenter, ensuring all facets of each speaker’s presentation is accessible to the entire audience is key to having a more inclusive event. At ProLingo we offer a complete menu of event services. From renting portable listening systems to providing sign language interpreters or live captioners, contact 800-287-9755 to speak with an event specialist.

Client Spotlight
PROLINGO CLIENT TESTIMONIALS

Your onsite technician was the exact definition of the word professional. The sound quality was outstanding and it was expressed to me that all interpreters did an outstanding job. Keep up the great work!
- C. Parchy, CEO

5 / 5 stars

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