Accessibility resources for UBC event organizers

There are many things that organizers should consider to make their events accessible: Is the venue physically accessible by participants using mobility devices? Does the venue have gender-neutral, accessible washrooms? Are event promotional materials readable by people using assistive technology? Will the presentation format be accessible to disabled participants? Does the event meet dietary requirements of participants? Has the event been scheduled so as not to take place on a religious holiday that might exclude people of that faith from attending? Have efforts been made to avoid using materials at the event that could cause symptoms for people with chemical sensitivities? The answers to these and other questions tell us whom we are welcoming to participate in our events, and whom we are excluding. How can we create events that better serve all members of the UBC community and the broader public?

This webpage is an in-progress compilation of services and tools to organize more accessible events at UBC Vancouver Campus. It will be updated as more resources and information become available. We welcome your suggestions for additions and edits to this page. Please contact us.

Event preparation

Building information

When considering an event venue at UBC, search for the location on the Wayfinding site, and click on the “Footprint Map” section to show Entrances and Accessibility Information for the building and surrounding area.   

Event timing

Post-event surveys can help inform the most suitable days and times of events for the audience you would like to reach, with consideration for work, teaching, childcare schedules, etc.

Refreshments

Scholar’s Catering at UBC -V has menus that list allergens and dietary preference information.

Food outlets at The Nest: The AMS does not have allergen-free food preparation facilities. You can inquire at specific food outlets about the ingredients they use to see if they offer food suitable for attendees’ needs.

For catered events at Green College or Sage Bistro, contact their staff to discuss dietary requirements.

Label the food at the event.

Event promotion

If promoting your event on a website or on social media: Is the content accessible? If graphics are used, do they have image descriptions and/or alt text for screen readers?

Specify details related to accessibility. Include options on event RSVP forms for attendees to indicate accessibility needs, dietary requirements, and other accommodations details.

Event archiving

Event recordings

When posting video or audio recordings of past events, provide captioning and/or transcripts to improve accessibility using one of the below services. If posting on YouTube, it is possible to turn on auto-generated captioning for a rough draft, then review the captions to make corrections.

Accessibility services

American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreting

When requesting ASL interpretation services, include the following: organizer’s e-mail and/or phone number, event time and date, link to event details, presenter names, number of participants, location, whether the event will be recorded and how it will be shared, and whether Deaf participants are confirmed. 

Still Interpreting
Summary: Provides interpreting services in legal, mental health, medical, educational, community and business settings. Minimum booking is 2 hours. The required information is outlined in their online booking request form. Their office is in Vancouver.

Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility
Summary: Provides medical and community interpreting, and video translating and captioning. About $75/hour for general ASL interpretation, with a minimum of two hours; half-/full-day rates may be negotiated in some cases. Office is in Vancouver.

Live Captioning

Closed Captioning for Zoom
Zoom settings: This setting is for UBC users with Zoom accounts. Log in at zoom.us, go to Settings > In Meeting (Advanced), and ensure that Closed Captioning option is turned on. Once in the Zoom Meeting room, click on “Live Transcript” in the menu, and select “Enable Auto-Transcription”. If you also enable the “Save Captions” option in your Zoom settings, participants will be able to save a copy of the closed captions or transcripts.

Zoom API Token: This tool is for UBC users with Zoom accounts and CWL credentials. Zoom Meeting hosts can enter their Meeting Room, copy the API token, and paste it into the box on the CWL-protected Closed Captioning for Zoom webpage to begin real-time captions. A transcript will be downloaded to your computer when the session ends. 

Contact UBC IT if you require assistance.

Google Slides shared via Zoom
Presenters in Zoom rooms who are screen-sharing a Google Slides presentation can select the “closed captioning” option in the Google Slides file. As presenters speak, captions will appear live in Zoom, overlaid on the bottom of the slides.

Accurate Realtime
Accurate Realtime’s certified shorthand reporters (Communication Access Realtime Translation – CART providers) write on advanced computerized steno machines at the speed of the spoken word, at over 200 words per minute with near 100% accuracy.

AI Media
Live content services: broadcast captions, broadcast subtitles (any language), CART, streaming captions, audio descriptions.
Recording content services: captions, subtitles, transcripts, audio descriptions.

Guides

Below are links to some guides with information about accessibility and descriptions from their pages.

UBC Checklist for Accessible Event Planning
A list from the UBC Equity & Inclusion Office to consider an event from various perspectives: using a variety of mobility assistance devices; accompanied by an assistance dog; with low vision; with an auditory disability; with a chemical sensitivity, etc.

Make Events Accessible: A disability primer for organizers
Make Events Accessible: A disability primer for organizers outlines how to make academic events more accessible physically, financially, and emotionally for people with disabilities. Includes an accessibility checklist, information about why access matters, stories from chronically ill students, and a glossary. Created by Olivia Dreisinger, PhD student in the UBC Department of English Language & Literatures. 

How to Organize Inclusive Events
How to Organize Inclusive Events: A Handbook for Feminist, Accessible, and Sustainable Gatherings is a new book by Dr. Alexandra Ketchum (Faculty Lecturer at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies at McGill University). Its goal is to provide event organizers of all levels with the tools to make their events accessible, sustainable, and exemplify social justice principles. Whether you are new to organizing or highly experienced, this handbook will provide frameworks and practical tips to create inclusive events. There is a special section on online/virtual/cyber events.

Introduction to Accessibility in Wikimedia Commons
Learning materials from two workshops hosted by the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab and University of Victoria Libraries: “Designing for Accessibility: Authoring Effective Alternative Text Descriptions” by Adam Wilton and Jennifer Jesso (Accessibility Resource Centre BC), and “Wikipedia Accessibility Edit-a-thon” by Silvia Gutiérrez De la Torre (College of Mexico) and J. Matthew Huculak (UVic).

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.

The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Web “content” generally refers to the information in a web page or web application, including:

  • natural information such as text, images, and sounds
  • code or markup that defines structure, presentation, etc.

Readings

Alt-Text as Poetry
A collaboration between artists Bojana Coklyat and Shannon Finnegan, supported by Eyebeam and the Disability Visibility Project. Eyebeam “enables people to think creatively and critically about technology’s effect on society, with the mission of revealing new paths toward a more just future for all.” The Disability Visibility Project “is an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture.”

Ableism in Academia
Ableism in Academia: Theorising experiences of disabilities and chronic illnesses in higher education
Edited by Nicole Brown and Jennifer Leigh, UCL Press, 2020

Rather than embracing difference as a reflection of wider society, academic ecosystems seek to normalise and homogenise ways of working and of being a researcher. As a consequence, ableism in academia is endemic. However, to date no attempt has been made to theorise experiences of ableism in academia.

Ableism in Academia provides an interdisciplinary outlook on ableism that is currently missing. Through reporting research data and exploring personal experiences, the contributors theorise and conceptualise what it means to be/work outside the stereotypical norm. The volume brings together a range of perspectives, including feminism, post-structuralism, such as Derridean and Foucauldian theory, crip theory and disability theory, and draws on the breadth of a number of related disciplines.

Discussions

Voices of Access and Disability in Higher Education
This webinar series aims to centre lived experiences of disability in education and academia and encourage dialogue around addressing and challenging ableism in our institutions. Presented by Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods BC, UTown@UBC’s Community of Caring grant and the UBC Department of Geography’s Equity and Diversity Committee.

Part 1 – Defining Access & Identifying Barriers

Part 2 – Opportunities for Change

A Fireside Chat with Margaret Price
The Public Humanities Hub, partnering with the Women’s Health Research Cluster, offered this opportunity to sit down with Dr. Margaret Price to discuss issues she addresses in her work on mental health and academic life. In conversation with Dr. Judy Segal, Dr. Price took a Disabilities Studies approach to her topics in this fireside chat, questioning some deeply held, and generally unchallenged, values of university culture: rationality, productivity, presence, security, and independence—values typically consulted (deliberately and not) in assessments of both students and faculty members.
Event recording

What are we missing?

Is there something you’d like to see on this website? Are there accommodations you’d like to see at UBC that aren’t currently available? Please get in touch.

Acknowledgements

Thank you to communications and program staff at UBC, and an organizing member of “Voices of Access and Disability in Higher Education” for sharing details about accessibility services, and to the Public Humanities Hub team for contributions.