By: Roma G. Velasco
If you are a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) coach or consultant, you work very hard at putting your program and service offerings together, ensuring that the content of your workshop and training is valuable to your audience. Yet, it’s easy to miss even the smallest details that may have significant effects on how inclusive your DEI webinar and training is for a wide range of participants with varying abilities, or those with disabilities who may need support to participate fully in their communities.
As we all take advantage of the benefits of remote work, many of your offerings are likely virtual these days. The transition from in-person to virtual may be easy for some and challenging for others. How do you ensure that your online DEI workshop or training is inclusive for everyone?
When it comes to designing and developing your DEI workshop and training, let’s be specific about what we mean by inclusive in this instance. Since a service offering, such as an online webinar or workshop is a product, we will use the definition based on inclusive design principles: inclusive design is about putting people first. It’s about designing for the needs of people with temporary, situational, or changing disabilities — all of us really [Swan, Pouncey, et.al.]. Inclusion means that all people, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or health care needs, are able to participate in your workshop and training.
Here is a checklist you can use when creating your DEI webinars as well as other online events, so as not to overlook some important design elements that can support all kinds of participant needs:
CHECK YOUR PRESENTATION DECK FORMAT AND DESIGN:
It is easy to violate some design rules when it comes to your presentation slides. When you are presenting virtually, your slides are not being projected on a big screen and rather on a smaller one between 13” to 16” or even smaller.
When it comes to choosing the right color palette for your presentation, there are individuals who find it easier or harder to perceive content based on the color combinations used for text and background. A study conducted at the University of British Columbia by Jason Harrison from Sensory Perception and Interaction Research found that people with astigmatism have a harder time reading white text on a black background than black text on a white background.
- Use less text. It can be difficult to read content on a slide that’s being projected on a smaller screen.
- Use images instead of text to convey ideas.
- Watch for text and background contrast. Some folks may have color deficiency [8% of men and 0.5% of women or color-blind]. You may check your content for color visibility at Vischeck.
- Use animation sparingly. It can be distracting unless you want to grab people’s attention on a specific slide.
- If you need to use your brand colors on your presentation, select colors that are easy on the eyes. For example, do not use the combination of red and green or green and black for text and background. Go for dark color/light color contrast such as black text/white background. Here are some good examples of color-blind friendly palettes that also works for people who don’t have a color deficiency.
DOES YOUR WORKSHOP/TRAINING SUPPORT INDIVIDUALS WITH VISUAL AND HEARING IMPAIRMENTS?
If you have not worked with individuals with visual and hearing impairment, you may miss thinking about them as part of your audience and fail to design your workshops and training which welcomes and includes them.
- Does the platform you’re using offer closed-captioning? Have you turned closed captioning on?
- Keep in mind that some folks are unable to read text on closed captions quickly, or it can be distracting.
- Could you have an American Sign Language interpreter available during your webinar or presentation?
DOES YOUR WORKSHOP/TRAINING SUPPORT INDIVIDUALS WHOSE FIRST/NATIVE LANGUAGE IS NOT ENGLISH?
If you are targeting a specific audience whose native language is not English, could you provide a translator? Or, perhaps consider partnering with another facilitator who speaks the language in question.
DOES YOUR WORKSHOP/TRAINING SUPPORT INDIVIDUALS WHOSE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, AFFILIATIONS, AND CULTURAL PRACTICES DIFFER THAN YOURS?
The materials you use during your workshop may contain language and depictions that may be perceived as impolite or disrespectful towards people of certain religion or culture. During one of our DEI workshops, we shared and played a video that we thought has wonderful content, however, it contained a phrase that is deemed inappropriate for individuals of certain religions. We were made aware of it by one of the participants which prompted us to be more mindful and thoughtful about our selection of materials that we would like to use in our current and future DEI workshops.
WHEN AND WHAT PART OF THE DAY DO YOU OFFER YOUR WEBINAR/TRAINING?
Some participants may be juggling their work schedule with their children’s schedule and activities. It is almost inevitable to have last-minute “I have to go take care of this now…” situations arise. Remember, timing makes a difference.
- Consider recording your event and making it available to participants to view on their own schedule. However, remember that your DEI training or workshop may contain confidential and sensitive information, so recording the session may not be an option. And, if you do plan to record, you will need to get acknowledgment and or agreement from participants to do so.
- If recording is not possible, what alternatives do you offer to registrants who missed the session? For example, might you offer a quick 20-minute 1:1 session with them?
- When you select the day and time of your webinar/online training, can you research a schedule that works best for your target audience?
What other support and accommodations have you provided to welcome everyone to participate in your DEI workshop and training regardless of ability or disability? We would love to hear your thoughts and insights!
What We Mean When We Talk About Inclusion – Institute for Community Inclusion