vFairs entered the virtual events space with one clear goal in mind: connect global audiences and enable them to create long lasting relationships through engaging virtual events. We also wanted to ensure that this was possible for each and every individual interested in benefiting from the gifts of technology, no matter what their limitations may be. Why is this important? People with disabilities are often overlooked in our society, especially in the professional world. While many workplaces offer accessibility options, they aren’t fully inclusive for applicants with disabilities. Similarly, few event organizers consider the needs and requirements of attendees with disabilities, like setting up wheelchair ramps or arranging for sign language interpreters. Sadly, the same negligence has trickled down to virtual events, translating into a lack of opportunities to those who are already being pulled back by physical limitations. vFairs wanted to transform this culture. It set out to open gateways to individuals based on their interest and skills, rather than their shortcomings. Anyone seeking opportunities should have a fair chance to get them. vFairs, therefore, aims to level the playing field. Putting their services into practice, in October of 2020, vFairs partnered with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Every year, CNIB hosts its Connecting The Dots conference at a physical venue. This event serves to educate visually impaired individuals regarding innovations, industry trends, and job opportunities. Industry experts spearhead workshops and panel discussions that help attendees develop their careers and excel in them. But this year, COVID-19 made it impossible for several organizations, like CNIB, to host their events in the traditional manner. That’s where vFairs accessible events come in. Why are accessible events a challenge? Accessible events need to be specialized and hand-tailored for organizations because: Organizers don’t just need accessibility features – they also require assistance in terms of setting up these features and bringing them to use. Organizers like to learn how they can drive the most value out of them. They also like to be backed up by a dedicated support team to cater to any technical issues that may appear during the event. vFairs creates hassle-free accessible events and works with each and every client to ensure their virtual event fits their needs like a glove. We’ve delivered successful virtual events with accessibility features, like Cornell University’s graduate school resource fair with accessibility features for students with special needs. To truly understand how CNIB’s event was targeted to the sight loss community, their target audience was attending the event from their screens, but vision was a major roadblock to their attendance. For this reason, they needed integrated screen readers, smart technology to navigate by gesture, and reverse-in-contrast features so vision impairment wasn’t a hurdle for them. Similarly, other individuals with hearing or speech impairment also required special features like chat functionality to help them interact and engage with exhibitors. How does vFairs break these barriers? vFairs has been a leader in the virtual events space for a while now. In this capacity, clients all over the globe have lauded it for the realistic experience its events offer. But most importantly, it’s the only solution that provides a comprehensive suite of accessibility features. These include: chat/voice enablement reverse contrast larger fonts extra space for text in booths At the customer service end, vFairs offers support prior, during, and after each event. It makes sure that each of their clients is all set for their events. CNIB’s two events, Connecting The Dots (English) and Congrès Points de connexion (French), were no exception. vFairs worked with them closely to ensure that the event was engaging and free of barriers for the sight loss community. Let’s take a closer look at the virtual venues that vFairs set up for the accessible events. 1. Easy navigation with the help of on-page narration The key benefit of virtual events for people with disabilities is that they don’t have to travel to venues. But if they’re relying on a website to attend an event, they need to be able to easily navigate through it. For this reason, we made sure that all important links were available on the home page. We added on-page narration to help attendees know where they are and help them get to their next destination via the audio aids. In addition to this, the accessibility features were accessible from the top-right side of every page. We added reverse contrast, font magnification, and on-page narration. Our on-page narration enabled all participants to easily learn about the page they were visiting, and what it featured, irrespective of their degree of vision impairment. 2. Aiding attendees with accessible learning resources Most online conferences feature resources for attendees. These can be documents with more information about the organization, learning resources, or just promotions. vFairs offers attendees the option to save them as they navigate through the website and access them later. All the PDFs were also reader-accessible and could be downloaded conveniently. vFairs works very closely with the organizers to ensure that all the documents fit the bill before they were uploaded. Attendees can also use the font magnifier to enlarge the text or the reverse contrast feature to improve visibility. vFairs even offers customizable options based on each client’s requirements. 3. Seamless networking with the chat feature CNIB wanted their attendees to easily interact with exhibitors and learn about new opportunities. vFairs enabled this by offering 1:1 chat rooms with both calling and video chat features so typing wasn’t a roadblock to networking. It also offered an easily accessible video vault that featured vendor videos. The live webinar feature enabled participants to attend the talks in real-time and ask questions on the spot. How do attendees feel about virtual events? Like most of the events we conduct, the CNIB conferences saw a lot of positive feedback roll in. Despite the limitations, attendees interacted with the vendors, networked with other attendees, and learned about new insights and opportunities from the event. Here’s what one of the attendees had to say: The advantage of the virtual event is that I am able to participate without anyone’s help. Total independence! “The attendees also had a lot of diversity in them, from those with partial vision to those with complete blindness. vFairs ensured that each individual was catered to, irrespective of where they fell on the spectrum. This is true for all the events that we conduct.” And the hosts, CNIB, are excited to take us on for future events. Conclusion While virtual events have gained a lot of traction in the past year, inaccessibility still continues to be a major roadblock to attendance. But with the right platform, innovative features, and a dedicated team, organizations can ensure that their virtual events are both immersive and accessible. vFairs is the perfect example. Its success is attributed to the fact that each of its features is designed around the needs of its target audience. In the case of CNIB, vFairs worked very closely with the organizer to replicate their traditional conference and take it online while ensuring engagement and inclusivity. Consequently, attendees were able to network easily and access information conveniently. About vFairs vFairs is a leading virtual events platform that ensures inclusivity on top of delivering engaging and immersive virtual events. We facilitate organizing, exhibiting, and attending events such as conferences, trade shows, and career fairs. Contact the vFairs team to learn more or request a demo today.