Facilitating Inclusivity with Accessibility
How One Member’s Message Amplified Accessibility Options for Virtual Events
Member communities are comprised of individuals from every demographic and region, and flexibility is crucial in driving engagement. But too often event planners only focus on such things as time zone, language, and virtual tools when trying to
achieve significant scale, when accessibility often means much more. One of our clients at Innovatis Group, the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN), an organization serving 50,000 female entrepreneurs worldwide, added tremendous value to their membership by introducing live ASL translations and closed captioning to their virtual programs, based on feedback and requests from their members.
Opportunity for Change
Prior to DWEN’s summer Virtual Summit event, a member reached out to inquire about accessibility options for the deaf/hard of hearing for the program. While the team had not yet discussed options for closed captioning or interpreter services for the event, they knew immediately this had to be factored into the plan to ensure greater accessibility for all members.
After looking at various solutions, Innovatis engaged Interpreter Now, a deaf-owned interpreting agency, to facilitate live sign language interpretation during each of DWEN’s Virtual Summit event sessions. Their services range from accommodations training, on-site interpreting, video interpreting, virtual ASL classes, and more. They provided a great solution for this specific event and opened the door to more accessibility possibilities for future events for our clients. They also shared the program details with their extended community that would benefit from the content and we were pleased to see them join the experience as well.
Events for Everyone
Adding accessibility enhancements during virtual events has turned into another opportunity for community engagement. For limited additional cost and coordination, event planners can make events available to more members, and increase community-wide awareness of the need for accessibility options for community programs.
The accommodations provided at the DWEN event have set a new precedent for Innovatis. Our team is now finding other ways to incorporate closed captioning and interpreters for all programs, including in-person events once they return.
Open to Options
It is important to consider how all members can access community experiences when building an event strategy, virtually or in person. Whether it be translations, closed captioning, new tools, extended time zones, etc., without taking into consideration the needs of the broader community, the event may be limiting members the opportunity to engage. Driving real engagement means ensuring accessibility for as many members as possible.
“This summit is next level and by far the most advanced, interactive digital event I have attended!” –DWEN Virtual Summit Attendee
Numerous members commended DWEN for being a virtual event leader to improve the event experience for all. With over 1,350 attendees representing over 35 countries, many attendees were also interested in incorporating accessibility options like virtual interpreters for their own upcoming events and programs. We expect to see this as an ongoing trend across all their programming and other organizations into 2021 and beyond.