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Accessible Virtual Events

Thinking about hosting an online event?

Your event should be accessible for all audiences! If you'd like to learn in more depth about creating accessible virtual conferences SIG Access has an excellent resource outlining all considerations.

Accessibility Guidelines for a Successful Online Event

Have attendees register to attend your event


Knowing ahead of time who will be attending your event will give you time to organize any requested accommodations.

Add Reasonable Accomodations Statement
Add the ADA Reasonable Accommodations for Events wording into your event's registration form and close the registration period several days before the event.

If someone requests accommodations, you will need to get in touch with DSS to set up things like a live transcriber, if requested.

Consider pre-recording your event's videos 

computer with close caption bubble

Cut down on day-of stress; pre-record your event videos and send your video(s) for captioning. Pre-recording and captioning a video takes extra work up front and requires ample planning, but makes for an accessible experience for all audience types and gives the opportunity to edit and polish up your presentation. 

CSUSM provides FREE captioning services for campus related videos.
Request captions today through the Caption Request Form.

Verbally describe what is on-screen 

hand holding megaphone

Do not assume your event attendees are actively watching what is on screen. Online events make it very tempting for sighted users to open a new tab and passively listen to a presentation and non-visual users are physically unable to see what is being present. Talk through anything that is being presented on-screen in depth for audiences that are listening. 

Avoid phrases like "as you can see..." or "look here" as this is not very inclusive language.

Verbally read out questions posted in the chat

Q and A bubbles
If allowing event participants to use chat, please read out all questions and answers into a microphone verbally and type in responses too. This will help accommodate users who may have difficulty hearing responses and those who are unable to view the chat.

How to select an appropriate conferencing/event platform?

As a starting point, the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) has put together a video conferencing feature matrix to help outline some accessibility considerations of commonly used platforms. This list has been developed with a consensus by deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind consumer advocacy organizations and subject matter experts.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • No one has requested accommodations for my online event - do I need to provide captions?

    Yes, whenever possible, it is recommended to have captioning provided for online events as captions benefit numerous audiences.

    • If no one has requested accommodations ahead of time for an event that is closed to the general public, the AI-caption feature on Zoom or Teams should be an appropriate course of action. This feature is optional to turn on and while not perfect, is better than not having captions at all.
    • If an event is publicly accessible -or- someone has requested an accommodation, such as captions - then you legally must provide event captioning/their requested accommodation - work with DSS to request this service with a professional captioner.
  • How long does it take to send a video out for captioning?

    Results vary depending on the number of requests sent to the captioning vendor.

    For the most up to date estimate of how long captions take to process, refer to the  Caption Request Form.

  • How long before my event should I request a live captioner?

    As soon as possible. There is a high demand for live captioners and you should reserve one as soon as it is known that one is needed. Contact DSS to schedule with eCaptions or Automatic Sync as soon as you have the event date/time so a captioner can available.


  • My event has students presenting complex research posters - how should I organize this content?

    If possible, it is encouraged to either:

    • Have your student(s) record a video presenting their poster and have them explain their findings in depth.
    • Have your student's poster information be put onto a webpage as text. 
      • Unless absolutely integral to your area, avoid posting a picture of your student's poster. If you must post a poster image, it should be organized like GSR's handling of student poster presentations where the poster image is optional and all content is manually posted to the page.  Example Poster Page