Over the past few months, we’ve been delighted to work with Yani Bellini Saibene at rOpenSci as she’s designed and built a brand new champions program. One of the ways we’ve been supporting that work is by delivering an online training for the new champions in how to design and host successful meetings. This month we used our “making a PACT” framework for more engaging meetings and events – and after reaching out to the participants to ask about their accessibility requirements, we were prompted to make some adjustments to how we facilitated the workshop and shared materials.
Community managers are always learning about new tools and making improvements to how we support community members – and this approach is no different for CSCCE staff! So in the spirit of “working out loud”, this blog post includes more information about the PACT framework and how we updated our existing workshop to make it more accessible.
Making a PACT
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were inspired to create a four-part guidebook on virtual events. Part one of the guidebook describes the “making a PACT” framework for virtual event planning, with four key things to consider: Purpose, Attendees, Community management, and Tech tools.
The framework is intended to help community managers create virtual meetings and events that are both productive and inclusive. By carefully considering why you’re meeting (P), you can then think through who should (and should not) be there (A), how you will work to keep everyone engaged in the event (C), and what tools (such as online whiteboards or shared notes docs) might help (T).
Making a PACT workshop
One of the workshops we offer to our clients uses the PACT framework to help workshop attendees work through their own event planning process. In the past, we have facilitated these workshops using the online whiteboard tool Mural. This tool allows collaborators to write ideas on sticky notes, mark up diagrams or figures, and move everything around easily as they brainstorm or refine an idea.
As part of our ongoing consultancy with rOpenSci, community manager Yani Bellini Saibene invited us to host such a workshop for her new community champions. Through our welcome process for participants, we identified that one of the champions would be using a screen reader to participate in the workshop. This prompted us to check the accessibility of Mural, and we discovered that the app cannot be easily understood using a screen reader.
Adapting our workshop materials
In order to make sure the workshop activity was accessible, we decided to turn to Google Docs, a platform that we already use regularly and that affords much more accessibility in its design. We took the activity that we had scaffolded on Mural and translated it into a Google Doc. Importantly for screen reader compatibility, we made use of hierarchical headers as points of orientation (see the image below).
We also took the opportunity to revisit our Powerpoint slides, in order to ensure that they also could be read by a screen reader. Using Powerpoint’s built-in accessibility checker, we made sure that all images had alt text, all slides had headings, and that the content in each slide would be read in the correct order. We also shared back what we learned (with a more detailed show and tell of how to make these edits) during February’s CSCCE community call, which focused on digital accessibility.
Lastly, we made sure to send out all of the workshop materials ahead of time, so that everyone participating had plenty of time to acquaint themselves with what to expect.
Some takeaways from this process
We learned a lot through adapting this workshop. Some high-level takeaways include:
- It’s important to understand what your participants actually need – including a question about accommodations during onboarding and then asking any clarifying questions will help you make sure your materials are accessible to your participants.
- There are lots of helpful tools (e.g., online and built-in accessibility checkers) and resources (see our recent community call recap, which curates a number of these) that can guide you as you work to make your materials more accessible.
- Technology is always changing! Even though Mural is not currently screen-reader accessible, that might not be true in a few months’ time. Keep an eye out for updates on your favorite facilitation tools.
Working with us on community trainings and workshops
We hope you found this post helpful! If you are interested in working with us on a training or workshop for your community or organization, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find more information about the kinds of consulting we offer on our website.