Planning virtual and hybrid events: steps to improve inclusion and accessibility
Abstract. The past decade has seen a global transformation in how we communicate and connect with one another, making it easier to network and collaborate with colleagues worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a rapid and unplanned shift toward virtual platforms, resulting in several accessibility challenges that have excluded many people during virtual events. Virtual and hybrid conferences have the potential to present opportunities and collaborations to groups previously excluded from purely in-person conference formats. This can only be achieved through thoughtful and careful planning with inclusion and accessibility in mind, learning lessons from previous events’ successes and failures. Without effective planning, virtual and hybrid events will replicate many biases and exclusions inherent to in-person events. This article provides guidance on best practices for making online/virtual and hybrid events more accessible based on the combined experiences of diverse groups and individuals who have planned and run such events.
Our suggestions focus on the accessibility considerations of three event planning stages: 1) Pre-event planning, 2) on the day/during the event, and 3) after the event. Ensuring accessibility and inclusivity in designing and running virtual events can help everyone engage more meaningfully, resulting in more impactful discussions that will more fully include contributions from the many groups with limited access to in-person events. However, while this article is intended to act as a starting place for inclusion and accessibility in online and hybrid event planning, it is not a fully comprehensive guide. As more events are run, it is expected that new insights and experiences will be gained, helping to continually update standards.
Status: open (until 09 Apr 2024)
Viewed (geographical distribution)