Benefits of Equal Access During Events and Conferences
Events and conferences are, at their very basic, a coming together of people. This can be in celebration of a certain author of sci-fi novels, an industry leading company displaying and discussing their upcoming products and concept ideas, or academics from a variety of disciplines discussing work related to a theme. They can last a few hours or a few days. They can be one-offs or held annually. They can be bigger one year and smaller the next. People come together. Being exclusionary is against logic. Exclusionary behaviour is not necessarily a conscious decision. The established way of doing something can have its problems. It is best to open events and conferences for as many people as possible. Here are the benefits of doing that.
There is likely to be someone who is differently abled in the audience, through age, illness, or accident. This applies to in-person and online events and conferences: they both have things which can make them difficult to access. What making sure the event is geared towards equal access achieves is a certain level playing field. Everyone is there with no difference other than their own, rather than one created by the event’s or conference’s environment. Someone in a wheelchair can’t comfortably get into the room where a talk is happening or can’t get around a table at an event where they have to work in teams, etc. Off the back of this inclusionary environment, the audience will feel cohesive. That they’re all there for the purpose of the event or conference.
Comprehension and Participation
If an audience is cohesive, and each individual audience member is comfortable, then comprehension and participation will be better. The event should be designed to maximise such things. For instance, a university professor is hosting a lecture via Zoom. They are explaining a complex concept which is integral to the next series of lectures. For that lecture, one or two students are having to access it in a noisy area in their student accommodation which is being hidden by a creative Zoom background. There wasn’t enough space in the library or the local coffee shop and their headphones don’t cancel noise well. Businesses like Verbit offer their service to provide captions for conferences, events, and lectures hosted on Zoom and other such software. The student will be able to read the captions, which transcribes in real-time the lecturer’s speech, and engage with the content, regardless of their environment.
All this improves comprehension and participation, as mentioned. Therefore, the event will be more rewarding to the speakers and the audience.
From a business point of view, there is the chance to meet people that might not have otherwise been met: a new contact, new talent, a new partner. Creating an inclusion environment opens the door to the future, to new ideas and new relationships which can push a business forward. While notable unicorn companies are founded by people that knew each at school or at university, everyday businesses grow organically with the same luck of meeting the right person at the right time. The business will be perceived and understood to be inclusionary, which is always a positive.