Accessibility

How you can support Accessibility 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.

During Sessions

  • 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 2020virtual@mcn.edu.

Accessibility on the Platforms

Sched

Unfortunately, Sched is not the best when it comes to accessibility. 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. As we expect you’ll be frustrated if using a screen reader we’re working on a solution for a more legible schedule alternative alongside Sched.

Zoom

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 Rev. 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. Also, in Zoom preferences the Accessibility section allows for control of the scale of closed captions, chat display size, and whether you want meeting controls to be present always.

Live Captions with CART

This year for the first time, we will be providing CART service (Communication Access Realtime Translation, that is professional live human-produced transcription) on several select sessions.

Live Automatic Captions

We will be using an automated captioning service (we’ll update you with what we are using and exactly how here) that integrates with Zoom to provide live captions with a much lower rate of accuracy and a bit of a lag. We realize that CART is far superior, and that there are chances of misinterpretation due to the automated nature. However we agreed that some degree of captioning is better than none. We hope you feel free to use the corrections to colleagues who may participate in sessions using captions as their primary access to the conference content.

Slack

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. 

Vimeo

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.

Feedback

We are doing our best to make MCN resources and conference experiences more accessible and are always open to ideas. Please contact 2020virtual@mcn.edu if you have specific requests, concerns, ideas, or experiences to share around accessibility either before or after the conference.