Accessible Events and Assistive Technology A Part of Mada Open Training Program

Accessible Events and Assistive Technology A Part of Mada Open Training Program

Research article Open access | Available online on: 08 September, 2019 | Last update: 08 September, 2019


Volume 6

Issue 05

The barriers caused by disability are
significantly reduced in an accessible
environment, thereby placing crucial
responsibility on planners and developers
to create environments that are accessible
to all and suitable for people with different
abilities and needs. These environments
can be digital or physical, such as websites
or buildings respectively, including
various events from conferences to
sports competitions. Designing accessible
events depends on the accessibility of
both buildings and content in its digital
and printed forms. One of the best ways
to ensure the accessibility of any event
is to look at it from the perspective of the
visitor: where does his/her journey begin,
what does it need, where does it end, and
Many believe that accessibility only
benefits persons with disabilities. This
belief contributes to the misconception
that investing on accessibility is a burden
on any organization and that the number
of people benefiting from it is very limited,
but this is often untrue. Accessibility must
be viewed from the principle of universal
access, and that any changes made by an
event organizer to increase accessibility are beneficial to all and not only to persons with disabilities. It is also important to look at the role that assistive technologies can play in improving accessibility within events. Technological developments in recent years have provided
event organizers with a lot of inexpensive and effective options to enable all visitors,
including persons with disabilities, to enjoy various aspects of events. In order to raise awareness of these technologies amongst event organizers, Mada Center holds training workshops on organizing accessible events as part of the annual Mada Open Training Program. Prior to the Event The journey of a visitor to any event begins well in advance of the event itself. There are many ways in which the audience interacts with an event before the opening day, such as advertising, announcing the event in all its forms, whether it is visual, audio, or interactive. This also includes all
content in the lead up to the event published on social networking platforms. It is important that all this content is accessible to people with disabilities. In order to achieve this level of accessibility, there are two concepts that need to be understood. The first of which is e-Accessibility, or ensuring that content is designed according to international web standards (WCAG 2.0) that focuses on correct organization and labeling of digital data. Accessible digital data enables users of assistive technology such as screen readers and Braille converters to access the content effectively using their AT. These guidelines, and several related best practices are available on the Mada website. The second and equally important accessibility concept that must be
understood at this stage is the importance of the explicit dissemination of any and all
information regarding the accessibility of any event. Event planners must communicate clearly whether the event venue is accessible to persons with disabilities by providing information about aspects like the entrance, parking, toilets and emergency exits. The event planner must also, communicate whether there will be specialized facilities like sign language or audio interpretation of visual materials. All details related to the accessibility of events must be published prior to the event so that people with disabilities are encouraged to participate. Often, events are accessible, but the public has not been informed of this, which discourages the participation of a large number of people with disabilities. Additionally, assistive technology can facilitate greater access to the registration process. Devices such as the Ubiduo can be placed on site, ahead of the event, to enable Deaf visitors to communicate with others through text. During the event Upon arriving to an event, it is preferred to have a central point of information that visitors with disabilities can visit to learn about the accessibility features of the event. The organizer can provide this information through an application or website designed according to the Web Accessibility standards, which will make it easier for all visitors to learn all the details of the event, such as the schedule, or explore the venue through a virtual map or communicate directly with the organizers. Providing content in alternative formats is one of the fundamental accessibility components of any event. Video material must be accompanied by closed captioning for the deaf and audio descriptions for the blind. All slide-shows that will be presented by speakers should be submitted in accessible digital format prior to the talk for those who request. Accessibility requirements and the nature of accommodations vary depending on the nature of each activity. There are many innovative ways to use technology as a means for increasing accessibility, for instance, implementing the use of wayfinding beacons to guide blind visitors and enable them to navigate the environment independently. When this system is in place, any blind person can use the wayfinding application to find out where the meetings rooms, toilets, exits, etc. are located. After the event Any media coverage generated by or about the event, through traditional means or social media, must also be accessible to all as per the principles discussed above. Follow up emails must include a description of any images. At times, emails are entirely composed of an image which contains text, without any description of what the text is, which makes it impossible for users of screen readers and other assistive technology to understand the message. Post-event questionnaires should also be conducted to allow participants to rate the accessibility of the event. In conclusion, we reiterate that designing and organizing events in ways that provide physical and digital access is in the interest of everyone. Websites designed according to international standards for e-accessibility benefit assistive technology users and everyone else because they are easier to use, simpler to understand and better
organized. This principle applies to all types= of accessibility, whether it is to buildings, printed materials, presentations and others. Designing events in an accessible manner is a societal, legal and ethical responsibility that cannot be neglected under the principle of equality and human rights. It is a basic requirement that must be met by all event organizers.

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