June 26, 2023
Virtual Events

How To Organize An Accessible Virtual Event

Explore theme selection, participant needs, team preparation, event format, pre-event communication, accessibility features, and post-event strategies.

The year 2020 has proved to be quite challenging and innovative in terms of organizing events, hasn’t it? Besides the atypical 2020 scenario, forcing events to migrate to virtual platforms, this modality has its perks.

Even companies that are traditionally known for their technologies, such as Apple, for the first time, organized events 100% virtually.

Low investment cost, flexibility, and branding are some of the advantages that virtual events provide for its organizers. However, I dare to say that the audience range is the most relevant one.

Virtual events were born accessible, breaking barriers of mobility, but there is much more to address if your event is to be completely accessible. Check what you must do before, during, and after your event to guarantee its accessibility:

Before the event

Choose a Theme

Many organizers still don’t know, but the theme can define the success of your online event.

Yes, it is very important to define a theme for your online event. What subject will you address? Which audience do you want to attract with this theme? What kind of accessibility tools will you need to provide support to your audience?

These are some questions that you should ask before defining the theme that will be the focus of your event. After all, everything revolves around it.

So, think carefully before setting the theme!

Understand the participants’ needs

Of course, you want a successful virtual event, therefore ask what your audience wants to see. Rule number 1: Every single aspect and every decision taken about the event must have your audience in mind.

In addition to understanding what people expect to see at your event, understand their particular needs as well. To collect this information, you can just ask them in the registration form. Let’s start with a list of disabilities that your event must be able to attend:

  • Auditory: Difficulty to hear sounds or a range of decibels;
  • Visual: Difficulty to see images, light, or colour. Different degrees of loss occur depending on the visual loss;
  • Limited fine or gross motor skills: Difficulty to manipulate small objects with hands or moving limbs;
  • Cognitive: Difficulty to process information delivered aurally, visually, or both including memory loss.

Choose carefully and prepare your team

Your audience is more aware and demanding of the way they want to be treated. They are completely right!

So preparing your team to deliver the best experience for the participants is crucial. Let them know which word is more suitable for certain situations, for example. Simply being called by the correct name on an email can be a WOW moment!

Choose the type of virtual event: live or recorded?

When organizing an online event, you have the option of choosing between a live broadcast or recording your video and eventually making it available to your audience.

In a pre-recorded model, the presenter manages to deliver a more dense and complete content, without forgetting any detail of the topics’ presentation that will be spoken. Additionally, it is more practical, since the video is already completed and can be made available to your audience on the day and time that you want, allowing more flexibility for the organizer.

But, there are also many advantages when broadcasting your live event. Live events give the audience more confidence. After all, to address a given subject live, you need to have a lot of knowledge and expertise on the subject, thus increasing your credibility.

To make your event accessible one of the essentials are the subtitles. See how the Stenomatic live conference translation  subtitles can make your live or recorded event more accessible

Pre-event communication and announcements

Make sure your participants will be prepared on the day of the event. So, guide them through emails, phone calls, or tutorial documentation, ensure that they will have their devices ready to support the event.

Check with them the following points:

  • Software Updates: Ensure that all software updates are installed and they are compatible with the one utilized by the event’s platform;
  • Quality of speakers/availability of a sound card on the computer;
  • Availability of a telephone option to receive audio;

Not only your participants must be prepared. See below what each disability needs to have a great experience:


  • Content delivered aurally should also be available through an integrated streaming text/captioning window;
  • Ability to enlarge font;
  • Ability to resize and relocate the captioning window;
  • Ability to save the captions;
  • Availability of text messaging;
  • The video should be open captioned;
  • Does not rely only on sounds to alert participants to key events in a session;
  • The recording captures the captioning so that it is displayed during playback;


  • Controls should be able to be accessed and enabled using keyboard commands;
  • Controls should be labelled so that they can be read by a screen reader;
  • Tab order should be sequential;
  • All content should be scalable so that it is not distorted when magnified with assistive technology;
  • Audible notifications of key events in a session (i.e. hand raised, incoming chat message, etc.);
  • User-defined colour/contrast themes;
  • All session content should be readable by a screen reader, including the text content of slides;
  • Reordering of the “shapes” on a slide to ensure that a screen reader will read them in the correct order. The structure of a slide presentation will impact the order that a screen reader will read the content of a slide;
  • Limited fine/gross motor movements
  • Full keyboard navigation through all interfaces of the system, including secondary windows
  • Keyboard navigation through major modules (i.e.whiteboard, chat area, audio controls, etc.)
  • Short cut or accelerator keys to navigate key interactions (i.e. Hand raising, polling, etc.)


  • Ability to respond verbally with microphone/phone or by typing in the chat window;
  • Ability to save whiteboard material for further review outside of a session;
  • Ability to use captioning window and auditory input simultaneously;
  • Ability to record content for review at a later time;
  • Ability to control the speed of content delivery;

During the Event

The big day has come, and it is time to check if everything you’ve planned and prepared in advance will work properly. It does not matter how organised you are, organising an event is hard work. For accessible events, it is the same! We’ve prepared a list of things to share with your team so they can ensure the event runs smoothly:

  1. During the event, communicate any key features that will be used during the session in advance;
  2. Repeat instructions when features are used during the session (how to use chat area, polling, etc.)
  3. Monitor the status of closed captioning during the session;
  4. The session should be paused if any technical problems occur with the captioning during the session;
  5. Resume the session only after captioning is functioning properly.
  6. Additional formatting may be required to ensure that the presentation materials are accessible when loaded into the broadcasting platform;
  7. Provide accessible copies of the entire presentation, before the presentation starts. This enables participants to review the information ahead of time so they can focus on listening to the speakers;

Guarantee accessibility during the event with Stenomatic

It is quite a list of things to be watching out for during an event, isn’t it? Choosing the right tool to help you during the big day is essential to make sure everything happens smoothly.

Stenomatic has a simple setup and is brand agnostic. Ensure accessibility for your participants during your events, so organising team can focus on other operational aspects on the day of the event.


Make people talk about your event and recommend it to others

You need to strive for a really memorable event. Depending on the type of your virtual event, corporate, academic, or educational, you can provide certificates or distribute downloadable materials. Keep in mind that this document must be accessible as well! Another great way to give people reasons to talk about your event is by gifting. Have you ever thought about vouchers for online shopping?

Profit post-event? Yes, it is possible!

How about making all the content generated during the event available for the participants to watch whenever they want? On-demand videos can be a great value proposition that would attract an audience and work as a bonus when purchasing tickets!

Besides increasing your yield, it makes the event even more accessible for those who weren’t able to participate on the day of the event, real-time.

All the video content powered by Stenomatic can be used repeatedly. All the content remains accessible for further use.

If you want to know more about Stenomatic and how it can make your event accessible for all audiences, get in touch with us.