NWeLearn: Developing & Hosting an Accessible Online Conference

These are my nearly random notes from Greg’s presentation. Lack of tangential thought is my own. Contents may settle in shipping:

Developing & Hosting an Accessible Online Conference

Dr. Gregory Zobel,
Assistant Professor of Educational Technology at Western Oregon University

The presentation covers technical aspects and challenges, the importance of networking and collaboration, and share a set of takeaways for people wanting to host an accessible online conference but are unsure of how to make it happen. The presenter is a faculty member who went from knowing nothing about hosting an online conference in November 2015 to organizing and hosting one in August 2016.

Zobel #Caption16



Ran a captioning studies conference. Excited about Zdenek’s Reading Sounds.

Why online? Can you cover costs, catering, housing, interpreting staff? Your conference needs to be accessible.

Collaboration will save the day. You need to build relationships.

The conference was free.

Challenges of an accessible conference: he had Strada donate all of their time.

Relied on the donations of corporate sponsors: Strada, 3 Play Media, CCAC, as well as WOU.

They helped recruit presenters. All labour was donated. They used a variety of platforms: WebEx, Skype, Google Hangouts. Can your institution handle the bandwidth?

Some users will be excluded. There is no way to get around this he says. WebEx is not friendly for screen readers.

I will email Gary about Elluminate and Blackboard Collaborate.

The focus on the presentation was on accessibility. This is a big issue for online conferences.

Audio issues: echoes, mics left on, etc.

Practice sessions with the software is important.

They used an online caption streaming company.

Images – training presenters to describe the slides and images.

Variations in skills – presenters, attendees and organizers have to have training and instructions.

The Event: registration, notification, communication.

Presenters were easy to recruit, more challenging to get focused, attrition due to life can happen.

Collaborate: build on your shared skills and community knowledge.

Should we do live sessions or pre-recorded sessions? Pre-recorded had a concurrent Twitter chat. Live went live. This increased participation & eased up technical challenges.

You can get metrics from WebEx on participation.

Used the Simone theme in WP because it is considered the most accessible.

Social media was useful for sharing. Greg preloaded tweets.

Conference tech: patience and caffeine.

The conference went well despite a couple of burps. Practice helped a lot. Keep presentations clear, simple, and organized. Engagement and passion count.


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