Specific accessibility considerations must be taken into consideration when planning programming that involves two-way conversations between presenters and participants or between participants.
Guidelines to support all users
Follow these guidelines to ensure online two-way programming is accessible for all users, regardless of disability status or type of disability:
- If your programming requires registration, ask about access requirements to ensure they can fully participate and allow time and funding to implement needed actions.
- Notify presenters about accessibility requests before the presentation and include resources regarding making presentations accessible.
- Have presentations and resources available before the program starts or in a shared folder that everyone can access at the start of the program.
- Ask if your sound is clear.
- Ask attendees to notify you if you speak too fast or can’t be heard.
- Review the features of the platform you use.
- Keep everyone who isn’t speaking on mute.
- Provide ample time to complete tasks that require opening links.
- If you want participants to read, avoid talking during reading time. Beware not everyone can see.
- Include multi-sensory elements in programming to give people different ways to engage. When possible, provide kits to participants with the materials they can use. Keep in mind the importance of accessibility for the materials in the kits. Read Making Science Labs Accessible to Students with Disabilities for more suggestions.
- Share links shown on screen audibly and in the chat.
- Provide phone-based connection options and plan for how those participants will participate (Example: Asking and answering questions or participating in polls.)
Auditory disabilities guidelines
Follow these guidelines to ensure programming with two-way engagement is accessible to those with auditory disabilities:
- Provide accurate, synchronized captions. If using a captioning company, send information about the event and its content to the captioning company at least one week before the event.
- Provide a sign language interpreter. (See Accessible Communication and Events for more information about finding sign language interpreters.)
- Coordinate logistics with sign language interpreters ahead of time to review the topic of the program (terminology), a plan to ensure the interpreter is always in view, and when interpreters will switch (if there is more than one interpreter). If there will be breakouts, plan for this to ensure attendees remain with the interpreters.
- Make sure all speakers’ faces are properly lit to support lip readers.
Visual disabilities guidelines
Follow these guidelines to ensure programming with two-way engagement is accessible to those with visual disabilities:
- Read out loud all questions or comments from the chat.
- Explain out loud when you are changing what you are sharing on screen.
- Discreetly let participants with visual disabilities know if something is off, such as if their camera is not pointing at them or there is not enough lighting in the room.
Speech disabilities guidelines
Ask yourself: Are there more ways to actively participate in the program other than speaking out loud? Follow these guidelines to ensure programming with two-way engagement is accessible to those with speaking disabilities:
- Provide multiple communication options, such as answer questions in the chat, type in a shared document, and ask questions in a Q&A box.
- Use polls on the video platform or an accessible polling platform.
Cognitive disabilities guidelines
Follow these guidelines to ensure programming with two-way engagement is accessible to those who identify as neurodivergent or have a cognitive disability:
- Provide multiple places to find instructions for breakout rooms. Put instructions on a slide, in the chat, on a separate document such as an agenda, and a shared file.
Mobility disabilities guidelines
Follow these guidelines to ensure programming with two-way engagement is accessible to those with mobility disabilities.
- Avoid requiring participants to frequently jump back and forth between browser windows on their device.
Learn more about facilitating accessible two-way engagement
Read: Prioritizing Accessibility in Organizing Online Events discusses how people who convene communities can design accessible events. The post links to additional resources.
Watch: Teaching an Accessible Online Course, a one-hour video from the DO-IT Center at the University of Washington, outlines how to make online courses accessible and discusses topics relevant for informal STEM educators. This video is part of DO-IT’s Accessible Tech Webinar Series.
Find additional resources on online programming with two-way engagement here.