Questions to Ask Before Creating an Accessible Virtual Event

As event organizers continue to adapt their in-person event strategies to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, accessibility has become a hot topic. How can we accommodate those with compromised immune systems or disabilities? How do we deliver a worthwhile event while keeping everyone’s wellbeing in mind?

The same considerations should be taken for virtual events. Just because a webinar doesn’t pose the same physical accessibility or safety challenges as a traditional trade show or conference, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for accessibility online.

The bottom line: making your virtual event accessible to people of all abilities and languages benefits everyone. You increase turnout and positive identification with your brand, and you ensure that all attendees can participate and enjoy.

Here are the big questions to ask about accessibility while putting on your next virtual event.

Before the Event

It’s all in the prep work: set your team up for a successful, inclusive virtual event by providing your attendees with ample event info and choosing the perfect event platform. 

What goes in your invitation?

An accessible event invitation goes a long way in letting attendees know what to expect, and exactly how to access your event. Here’s what your virtual event’s email invite should include:

  • Alt Text. Take the time to add image descriptions, also known as alt text, for people who use screen readers.
  • Plain Text. Add the option to view a plain text version of your email invitation. Plain text is more readable for those with low vision.
  • Handouts, Presentations, or Other Event Materials. Consider sending copies of PowerPoint or Keynote presentations to attendees ahead of time. That way, guests can familiarize themselves with the content before the event, using screen reading software if they need.
  • Event Schedule. Including a breakdown of your event’s schedule and format is useful for everyone. Note how long you anticipate the event running, when breaks will occur, and if there will be a Q&A portion; having attendees submit questions ahead of time will streamline the process for your team and presenters. It’s also worth mentioning whether attendees will be on-camera and invited to participate, or if it’s webinar-style, cameras off.
  • Instructions for Joining the Event. Step-by-step instructions for joining your virtual event is another useful feature for all attendees. Make your virtual event extra accessible for those who may not have an Internet connection or video conferencing capabilities by adding a dial-in option. You can easily enable dial-in numbers with most video conferencing platforms.

What accessibility features should your event platform have?

Choosing your video conferencing software and event management platform wisely is the best way to ensure an accessible virtual event. It’s where all the action happens, so your event hinges on your technology. Compare and contrast the accessibility features from Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams – which serves your audience best? 

If you’re working out of an event management platform and plan to use features like a mobile app or event landing page with attendee log-in, consider ease of use. PheedLoop’s AI-powered accessibility tool offers a wide range of settings to make virtual events more accessible for those with disabilities the moment they login to an event’s app or website.

Look for these key features when deciding how to host your virtual event:

  • Captioning Capabilities. Real-time captions are one of the simplest, yet most impactful, accessibility features an event platform can have. Does your chosen platform have automated real-time captioning capabilities? If not, does it support third-party captioning? 
  • Compatibility with Assistive Technology. Does your platform work with technologies like screen readers, screen enlargement, speech recognition and other aids? 
  • Customizable Video Interfaces. Can attendees pin video windows (for example, being able to pin the event’s ASL interpreter), enlarge video windows, or display two screens at once? 
  • Keyboard Shortcuts. For attendees who may not use a mouse, does your platform have simple keyboard shortcuts you can share ahead of time? 
  • Multiple Language Availability. When it comes to text, say on your event’s app or website, are there translation options for non-English speakers? PheedLoop has 15 native languages for easy, understandable translation.

During the Event

You’re an expert on your software’s accessibility options and your guests are ready to log on. Here’s what to think about while preparing your event’s program.

How is your event paced?

Over the past two years of the pandemic, we’ve all experienced “Zoom fatigue.” Factoring in breaks into your virtual event isn’t just a nice reprieve from the screen, but helps attendees process the information they’ve just been presented. Allot a 5- to 10-minute break every hour or so as a way of looking out for everyone’s wellbeing.

Do you need to hire an ASL interpreter?

While most video conferencing platforms have advanced real-time captioning capabilities, captions are often better suited for webinars and other kinds of front-facing presentations. Disability non-profit RespectAbility notes that for interactive events, like panels, roundtables or networking events, attendees who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing may prefer an ASL interpreter. Interpreters are better able to translate complex subject matter that automated captioning software may have trouble deciphering, capture cross-talk and translate for attendees who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing participating in the discussion. 

How can you communicate visuals?

When presenting a PowerPoint, Keynote or other visual aid, it’s best practice to briefly describe any images on-screen for attendees who are blind or low vision. RespectAbility points out that while providing materials ahead of time is useful for attendees to familiarize themselves with the event’s content, screen readers can’t be used with screen sharing or live streams, so explaining visuals is an immense help.

After the Event

Not only is creating a content library with pre-recorded virtual events smart for your budget and your brand, but it makes your events accessible on a whole new level. Consider the following when posting content after the fact.

How can you make recorded content accessible?

Your content can be just as accessible as the event itself, with many of the same considerations applying to your recordings. Here are key features to enable when posting video content.

  • Captions. Captions are different from subtitles; they include non-spoken information like [laughter] or [applause], which give the viewer important context. RespectAbility reports that without captions, 41% of videos become incomprehensible, so it’s important to make them available. 
  • Translation. Making your content library available in multiple languages ensures reach. Multi-language captioning is a simple and effective tool to utilize. 

What can you do better next time?

Post-event polls are standard practice – why not add in questions about accessibility features? Ask your attendees to weigh in on what worked, what didn’t and how to improve in future events. Make ease of access a KPI, and gather valuable data on how to best serve your guests.


Making your virtual events accessible isn’t just best practice, it’s good business. When your events are easy for everyone to join and participate in, you expand your reach, increase turnout and promote positive identification. At your next virtual event, make accessibility a top priority for an enjoyable experience for all.

PheedLoop is a leader in event accessibility. Check out the platform here.

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