How you can support accessibility and inclusion at MCN 2020 VIRTUAL
We encourage you to engage the MCN 2020 conference with inclusivity at the top of your mind. Creating a welcoming and inclusive MCN community is a collective effort that you can support. 2020 certainly has been a rough year for all of us, and we are all managing different levels and types of pain and exhaustion. People participate in this conference from all different time zones and preferred or dominant languages. Below we’ve borrowed some tips, adapted from the Allied Media Conference (who we think did a great job) to support this effort.
Throughout the conference
- Be mindful of your words, and avoid ableist or harmful language. Learn more from Self-Defined.
- When you speak, announce your name, share your pronouns, and describe yourself if your camera is on as some participants may be blind or have low vision.
- Recognize that some people may be caring for children or another person while also attending the conference, resulting in background noises or the need to step away suddenly.
- Speak loudly, clearly, and at a moderate pace, so interpreters can hear you.
- Be patient and ensure that only one person speaks at a time.
- Understand that language is sensitive, and everyone has their preferences. Recognize the difference between identity-first and person-first language, especially when discussing disability. Note that there are activists from the disability community that prefer using identity-first language–Carol Liebowitz’s blog post.
- Use your camera if you are comfortable, especially if you will be speaking as body language, facial expressions, and lip-reading are essential to many people
- Edit your name to include your pronouns by selecting “participants” -> find yourself -> select “more” -> select “rename.”
- Be patient with the tech. If you notice any issues, please let the session facilitator know.
- Understand that there is a wide variety of ways people communicate, process information, and express themselves. If you mention something verbally, follow it up with a written message.
- Describe images and graphic content for those who might not see or understand the significance of your non-text contribution. In the spirit of the variety of ways people communicate, consider the visual.
- Correct transcription if you notice something mistranscribed. While we wish we could offer CART services (human transcription rather than machine) on all sessions, we are relying on a more affordable automatic transcription service. This means there will be plenty of errors that participants will appreciate your help understanding. If you’d like to volunteer to transcribe a live session, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessibility on the Platforms
We have found that using the Sched app on iOS provides a more accessible experience than the website. Once you have downloaded the app, open it and search for “MCN 2020” and our conference should be the first event that comes up.
Some of the issues we’ve identified with Sched on desktop: While you are able to zoom in on the page content to improve legibility, and for the most part keyboard navigation has good focus states and usable interaction, we’ve found that performance with screen readers is quite disappointing, including poorly labeled headers and link states making it very difficult to use. We have provided thorough documentation to Sched Support, that was well-received, but unfortunately not actionable in time for our conference.
We chose to use Zoom specifically for its accessibility features. These are documented on their website. Sessions will be either CART transcribed or automatically transcribed with Otter. To turn on Captions, press the CC button in the menu controls at the bottom of the Zoom window when you are in a meeting. The accessibility section of the Zoom preferences on desktop allows for control of the scale of closed captions, chat display size, and whether you want meeting controls to be present always.
Live Automatic Transcription
Otter.ai provides automatic live transcription with a powerful AI and impressive speed. While we know that CART captioning is still superior as there are chances of misinterpretation in automated transcription, we agreed that the quality of this transcription service was the best we have seen and we wanted to be able to caption as much as possible. To turn on Captions, press the CC button in the menu controls at the bottom of the Zoom window when you are in a meeting.
If you find the delay of captions populating to be too slow, try viewing the real-time transcription on the Otter website. You can access this by clicking on “LIVE on Custom Live Streaming Service” in presentation sessions.
Or on Meeting events, like Workshops, Deep Dives, and some of the big events it appears as “LIVE on Otter.ai Live Notes” in the upper left of the Zoom window:
When you select “View Stream on Otter.ai Live Notes” a separate browser window will open taking you to a live transcription feed. You will be asked to create an account, but you do not need to, simply close the modal that pops up to view the transcript stream.
Check out the documentation on their website to support different ways of using Slack, including keyboard accessibility and using screen readers. To support visual adjustments, you can also customize the theme to make the interface more legible for you. We also like them because they openly talk about their process (including failing at accessibility), and they say “at Slack, we treat accessibility bugs as broken functionality, and product blockers.” They also have a multi-year accessibility plan, though how they will teach guide dogs to use Slack has yet to be clarified.
All pre-recorded sessions have closed captions. Activate these by clicking the CC button in the player controls. Just last year, Vimeo completed work to make their player WCAG 2.0 AA compliant. You can read about it on their blog.
We are doing our best to make MCN resources and conference experiences more accessible and are always open to ideas. Please contact email@example.com if you have specific requests, concerns, ideas, or experiences to share around accessibility either before or after the conference.