February Community Call Recap – Creating accessible community spaces online

This month our community call focused on the accessibility of community resources and programming – emphasizing practical actions we can all take to support the participation of members with disabilities. We heard from two members of our community of practice; Sara Kobilka (of Renaissance Woman Consulting and co-creator of the Digital Engagement Accessibility Toolkit) and Rebecca Carpenter (Virtual Academic Community Manager of the Deaf STEM Community Alliance at Rochester Institute of Technology); held space for questions and discussion, and finished the call with a “show and tell” of some tools that can aid in the accessibility of slide decks, websites, Zoom calls, and written content. 

In this blog post, we share an overview of the call, including recordings of Sara and Rebecca’s presentations, as well as a number of helpful resources that you can take a look at. We’re also working on a short resource to help guide STEM community managers specifically, and if that seems like something you’d like to be involved in making, please let us know by emailing info@cscce.org

Emerging themes

Sara’s presentation gave an overview of the different ways that disabilities might affect how community members participate in events or consume resources. She took some time to highlight how the language we use around accessibility is constantly changing, and  pointed to her colleague Meryl Evans’ mantra of “progress over perfection:” we don’t always get it right, but we can acknowledge when we make a mistake and work to do better. 

Watch Sara’s presentation in full:

Rebecca’s talk focused on supporting community members who are deaf and hard of hearing, and elevated the importance of asking your members for what they need rather than trying to develop a “one size fits all” strategy. She also spoke about the intersection of deafness with a range of identities, and the importance of working with members of the deaf community as you try to implement accessibility processes. 

Watch Rachel’s presentation in full:

Tech tools

At the end of the call, we took a look at a couple of tech tools that can help you make your programming and resources more accessible. Rebecca walked us through Zoom’s new(ish) interpreter functionality, which, with some foresight and planning allows you to assign both sign language and foreign language interpreters for your call. She demonstrated how the sign language interpreter function gives participants the option to move the interpreter’s video around their screen, ensuring it doesn’t obscure other content that they need to see. Currently, Zoom doesn’t support the recording of the interpreter’s video, making archiving video content challenging.

Maya Sanghvi, CSCCE’s Junior Trainer, demonstrated some of the features that Microsoft includes in PowerPoint for checking slide accessibility, and Katie Pratt, CSCCE’s Communications Director, showed participants on the call how to use the Hemingway App to check the readability of their written resources. She also highlighted the Accessibility Insights extension for Chrome and Edge, which can be used to check web content for a range of accessibility standards. 

Additional resources

Sara and Rebecca shared a number of additional places on the web that you can visit for guidance on accessibility:




  • The Accessibility Guy a YouTube Channel featuring Shawn Jordison, an expert in making digital documents and resources accessible.


Next month’s community call

Our next community call will take place on 15 March 2023 at 11am EST / 3pm UTC (note the daylight savings time shift in the US may affect the time of this call in your time zone). Beth Duckles will be joining us to co-facilitate an Oblique Thinking Hour centered around the challenges faced by STEM community managers. Join us to try out a new style of facilitation, connect with other community managers in STEM, and maybe find a solution to a problem that’s been bugging you!