The second day of the Capacity Building Conference funded by the EU as part of the Enable Mauritius project was an in-person event held at the University of Mauritius. Somewhat to my surprise, due to one of the speakers having been delayed, my slot was shifted from mid-morning and I again was the first to share my presentation with the audience. Thankfully, all my preparations had been made – the two videos I planned to show were with the technical team, and I was ready to speak.
As I mentioned last week, the topic I was asked to speak on was accessibility and inclusion. When planning my presentation, I realised the topic was far too broad to address effectively in a single keynote, and decided to focus on a specific element of accessibility and inclusion.
Over the past few months, due to projects I’ve worked on under the leadership of Karren Visser, I’ve become increasingly interested in techniques to make online offerings and social media posts more accessible to persons who are blind, partially blind, who are Deaf, or who live with hearing loss. So that was what I decided to speak on.
The question I was asking in my speech was straightforward. In a world where so many disability-focused organisations are fighting for greater levels of access and inclusion, why are we so often excluding our own community in our online resources and social media posts? I see videos without closed captions, without audio descriptions, posts and images without alternative text – and far too often these exclude the community the organisations are meant to be serving.
If we, as organisations working within the disability sector, do not make our own online offerings inclusive, how can we expect the rest of the world to do so? Then I gave an overview of a few simple techniques to make social media posts, websites and other content more accessible.
I always find the conversations that take place outside the more formal parts of a conference are a good way of knowing how well my message has been received. Certainly, during the lunch break later that day, I was approached by a number of people who wished to learn more about what I had said during my talk. I appreciated how seriously people had listened to the point I’d been trying to make.
The conference was my first actual in-person event in almost 3 years, and it was a wonderful feeling to speak to a live audience and receive instantaneous feedback from the attendees. Full respect to all those who were involved in putting both days of the conference together – the team from Global Rainbow Foundation, the EU and Enable Mauritius teams, and the technical team who got both my videos working perfectly and dropped them seamlessly into my talk.
As with the first day, parts of the conference were published online on Facebook Live. You can watch it here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live
And, with the conference over, it was time for a short holiday… but more about that part of my time in Mauritius in two weeks, as it’s Fiji’s turn to share a post with you next week.