The COVID-19 pandemic transformed virtual events. Connecting online suddenly became the only way to convene groups large and small, for short meetings or multi-day conferences, and community managers often found themselves developing new meeting formats or learning to use new platforms and tools.
Fast forward to June 2023, and a lot has changed. Platforms have evolved (and sometimes dissolved), event organizers have mastered their own suites of engagement tools, and, as participants, we’re more seasoned (although “you’re on mute!” remains a frequent refrain in Zoom meetings!).
We’ve also gained a much deeper appreciation for what it means to host a truly accessible online event. While online events opened up spaces to many people who’d previously been excluded (e.g., through reduced registration, travel, or childcare costs), for others, it made it even harder to participate.
In a new resource we’ve been working on with community members Rebecca Carpenter, Sara Kobillka, Casey Wright, Yanina Bellini Saibene, and Hao Ye, we offer 12 guiding questions to help you think about the ways that you could improve the accessibility of your community events. And in this blog post, we share our three top tips.
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.
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 email@example.com.
As a community manager, you work hard to create resources that are available to as many people as possible. When it comes to digital resources, this includes making sure that your PDFs are screen-reader compatible, your Zoom calls are captioned, and your slide decks don’t feature text that is too small.
On this month’s call, we’ll hear from CSCCE staff and members of our community of practice about how to create accessible resources, as well as check whether your existing resources need an update.
For this month’s community call we’re going to try something a little different, and instead of hosting speakers, we will create space to brainstorm ideas and share experiences of running virtual and hybrid meetings. In the spirit of “working out loud,” we invite you to join the call to connect with your fellow community managers and meeting organizers to pool your knowledge. At the end of the call, we’ll synthesize what we all learn and share it on the CSCCE blog.
How will this work?
We will set up four themed breakout rooms with expert moderators from the CSCCE community to guide you through a series of prompts. CSCCE staff will support the rooms by taking notes and collecting resources, leaving you free to vent, brainstorm, and problem solve with others who are working to make virtual and hybrid events more accessible and inclusive.
In this guest blog post, Serah Rono and Emily Lescak summarize Serah’s presentation and discussions from her Code for Science and Society community talk on accessibility in virtual events, and share an accessibility checklist to guide you as you plan virtual events.
Accessibility is to equity as a foundation is to a house. A well-rounded and intentional approach to making your community spaces and resources accessible levels the playing field for all in your community, and benefits everyone in the long-run.
December 3, 2020 was last year’s International Day for People with Disabilities. Under the theme “Not all Disabilities are Visible,” the day’s focus was on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.
This month, our content and programming focused on organizing and implementing virtual events. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meetings, conferences, and other events have become part of everyday life for many people, and the task of planning, executing, and evaluating them in STEM often falls to community managers. So, for our July community call we invited three members of our community of practice to share their knowledge and start a conversation about best practices.
Watch the three presentations from July’s call in their entirety.
“It’s Dangerous To Go Alone, Take This – Non-Player Characters & Prepping For Your Virtual Event” – Tom Quigley, ConservationXLabs (slides)
“It’s All About Access: Planning Meetings for Wider Audiences” – Rebecca Carpenter, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Virtual Academic Community (slides)
“Evaluating Virtual Events” – Emily Lescak, Code for Science and Society (slides)
On Wednesday, 22 July 2020 at 2pm we’re hosting our next monthly community call. This month’s call will focus on virtual events, a topic that is likely on the minds of many scientific community managers at the moment.
We’ll cover three key aspects of organizing virtual events: planning and preparation, access and accessibility, and evaluation, both before and after your event. With three experts from our community of practice presenting, and ample time for discussion and Q&A, this month’s call promises to provide actionable information for you and your colleagues, so we hope to see you there!
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