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Angie Aguirre on Making Your Webinar Accessible

Hello. I am Angie Aguirre from the INDEX program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. INDEX specializes in designing web sites, online courses, learning-management systems, and online databases, all of which are accessible to people with disabilities. Many of you are developing the same as part of your evaluation efforts. At INDEX, accessibility comes first! Since my colleagues and I have concentrated on accessibility issues in a previous blog (see here), I’m continuing here with that theme!

Webinars enable you to present, lecture, or deliver a workshop over the web. Webinars incorporate audio and visual elements, and can sometimes include audience interaction. It can’t be asked too often what makes your webinar accessible? It also can’t be said enough that accessibility promotes a culture of inclusion, as well as supports people with disabilities. The more people we can bring to the table, the better our evaluation efforts and the better we become as a society. Moreover, it’s the law!

Depending on what kind of webinar you’re providing and your audience, you should ask participants at registration if accommodations are needed.

Hot Tips: Choosing the Right Platform

Several features are needed for a webinar platform to be accessible. Be sure to look for:

  • integrated captioning;
  • screen reader compatibility; and
  • multiple ways of communicating with and engaging participants.

Providing Accommodations

  • For Auditory
    • Use Remote CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation). It is a service in which a certified CART provider listens to the webinar presenter and participants, and instantaneously translates all the speech to text. Most CART services are familiar with various types of webinar platforms, and can walk you through set-up.
    • If you are showing a video, be sure you provide captions.
  • For Visual
    • Webinar platform controls should be able to be accessed using keyboard commands.
    • All content should be readable by a screen reader, including the text content of a PowerPoint slide.
    • Provide accessible copies of the entire presentation, including handouts, before the webinar. This enables webinar participants to review the information ahead of time so they can focus on listening to the presenters.
  • For Cognitive
    • Provide a way for participants to respond verbally by phone/microphone, or by typing in a chat pod.
    • Participants should have ability to:
      • use the caption pod and adjust it to their liking;
      • listen to the recorded content at a later time;
      • control the speed of the content that is being delivered; and
      • (presenters/moderators may need to slow down a bit).

Rad Resources:

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