Section 508 of the American Disability Act describes what accommodations are required to facilitate disabilities in a webinar. You can find the full description here, but for the brevity of section 1194.1, take a look at the following snippet which is the lifeblood of what services are available to our disabled affiliates (keep in mind that these services only need to be ‘turned on’ in the case of a disabled attendee):
Section 508 requires that when agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, Employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities, seeking information or services, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.
To better understand the rules that apply to online events, you can look in 1194.22, described as web-based intranet and internet information and applications. Even though the 1194.22 guideline calls out ‘technologies’ the primary responsibility lies in the presenter and how the information is portrayed. So even though section 1194.22 gives a hefty list of applicable devices and technologies, the heart of it is captured in the exercise of ‘offering a text equivalent for every non-text element in the presentation’.
Another ADA requirement for online events resides in section 1194.23, telecommunications products which explains the assistive technologies recommended for online events. It is a very extensive list but its focus is around TTY. TTY simply stands for Text Telephone and is the key assistive technology for deaf telecommunications. Since TTY is required on both ends, most companies prefer to go with an operator assisted relay service.
The real key to the American Disability Act is to be prepared. You don’t want to find out moments before your webcast one of your attendees requires TTY and not have a service provider available. Since many telephony companies provide varying types of TTY take the few minutes well before your online event to line up the service. If you have questions on the use of TTY or transcription services on your next webcast, feel free to contact the V2 Crew.
Author-Cam Nicholson, V2 Business Development, has been in the conferencing industry for seven years, spending five of those as a Online Services champion with Microsoft.