5 Ways to Make Your Conferences Inclusive
Published on: 31 Oct, 2023
To make a business conference successful, what ingredients would you need? An expert panel of speakers, a spacious hall with a good sound setup, and a superior marketing strategy to attract people from the industry. This looks like a great starting point, but there is so much more to do that can ensure your conference’s resounding success. Here’s a breakdown of some simple ground rules for inclusive meetings to help you get started.
How do you create an inclusive conference?
An inclusive conference includes all aspects of comfort and aid required by people with disabilities. From sign language interpreters to wheelchair-friendly access to the hall, there are a myriad of factors to consider before opening the gates to delegates of the conference.
While sending out event invitations, ensure that you include a version with Braille so that people who cannot see can understand and comprehend the invite. On the other hand, in marketing collateral, include alt texts in posts and add captions and audio to your videos. Such simple steps will go a long way in fostering inclusivity for all.
Choose a venue that is easy to locate and access for everyone. The selected location should have wheelchair access and sign boards that can help everyone irrespective of their disability. Also, keep the lighting and sound at the venue moderate so that people on the Autism spectrum or other mental disabilities can comfortably attend the event. Employing a few people to guide and direct guests to the correct spot will also help. Moreover, make sure that the team of organizers you employ is inclusive and respectful towards everyone. Speaking to some people with disabilities beforehand will let you gauge and fulfill their needs to a larger extent.
2. Conference Content
While crafting the speech or script for the conference, avoid using disrespectful terms or slang that can offend guests. Your script should embrace the diverse group of delegates attending the event and make them feel welcome. Research on the appropriate terms to address people with disabilities and even people of different ethnicities.
On top of that, it is always a great decision to include a motivational speaker or a person with a disability on the panel of speakers as representation matters most. It will also attract other people with disabilities to attend the event and learn from their peers’ experiences.
3. Gifting and Performances
A conference will be dull and boring if you don’t work on breaking the monotony. Nobody wants to sit in a hall to listen to speakers for hours on end. As part of the welcome program or between two sessions, you can consider booking a performance by singers, dancers, magicians, and even bands who can delight and reenergize the audience. What’s better? Hire talented people with disabilities to create an inclusive environment at your conference.
Imagine the enthusiasm and spirit in the attendees when they see a person with Down Syndrome like K Alisha dancing flawlessly to the rhythm of the music. The CEO of Infosys loved the performance by the Sunadha Band at the CII event so much that he gave them a standing ovation to express his appreciation. Another shining story is of the We Are One dance troupe that performed live at a conference for IEX and enthralled the attendees with their movements.
For gifting and honoring your guests, you can buy hampers or individual items made by people with disabilities to generate income opportunities and make your conference inclusive at the same time.
4. Sign language Interpreters and Transcripts
The best way to promote inclusivity at your event is by hiring sign language interpreters who are skilled in disseminating the information accurately and on time. The interpreter should understand the languages being used at the event and must know the sign language well. Another aspect can be distributing transcripts or summaries of the event discussion so that everyone has it handy if they cannot hear the speakers. Using captions and text in videos along with clear audio is also helpful.
5. Q & A and Feedback
Have a question and answer session at the end of every discussion so that people can clarify their doubts and raise questions that will add value to the event. Listen to every comment and feedback with an open mind to ensure you incorporate their suggestions in your next event. You can also let your audience fill out a digital feedback form that asks them if they faced any difficulties reaching the venue or hearing the content discussion, with a special target group of people with disabilities in attendance. Being open to feedback and honest suggestions by the attendees will help you better plan your next event as well.
Impact of Inclusive Conferences
With the rise of technological advancements, it is incredibly effortless in this day and age to be inclusive and maintain a comfortable space for everyone. All it takes is a bit of effort and conscious planning so that no aspect of the conference goes unheard or unnoticed by the attendees. When everyone in the industry will be able to benefit from the conference and networking opportunities, the world will progress equitably and level the playing field.
If you’re still unsure and want some guidance, consider booking one of our atypical workshops that will equip you with the necessary information, bringing you one step closer to organizing inclusive events. Join us in creating a world where inclusivity takes center stage and everyone irrespective of their disabilities can benefit from various conferences and events.