Inclusive Events: During the Event

Betsy Cracco on stage at the student union with two large projector screens behind her
2023 Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Conference; Speaker: Betsy Cracco

We are proud of the diversity of our UMass community and value everyone’s experience and ability to participate in events and activities on campus. As you plan your event, please make the following considerations to make it inclusive and accessible to all our community members. This guide is meant to be used during all parts of the planning process. Consider bringing this guide to event planning meetings with your team so that the entire group can have input.

Land Acknowledgement

  • Begin campus events with a land acknowledgement. A spoken land acknowledgement and a written acknowledgment for printed materials are available on the OEI website.
  • For virtual/hybrid events, encourage off-campus attendees to use the website to learn about the land that they are occupying, and to share their own land acknowledgement in the chat.

Tip: The Native Governance Center published a Beyond Land Acknowledgement guide and action planning worksheet to ensure that your land acknowledgement is also an opportunity for concrete impact and accountability.

Event Photography and Filming

  • When possible, arrange to photograph and video record your events. Indicate how attendees can access the video recording and how long it will be available after the event. Ensure that video recordings are captioned before they are distributed. If you have an event transcript from the speaker, you may be able to use the transcript to help caption your video.
  • Some participants may need to access events virtually via Zoom or other livestreaming services. Work with an approved captioning company for livestream events to make them accessible.
  • When recording events, let the audience know that you will be photographing or recording and let anyone who is not comfortable with being recorded know that they can sit in a specified part of the room which will not be photographed or recorded.

Tip: Secure a captioner and develop a captioning plan early in the event planning process.

Anonymous Audience Questions

Audience members may not always feel comfortable asking questions, especially when an event is covering a sensitive topic. They may wish to ask questions anonymously. Consider using an anonymous event survey that participants can use during the event to ask questions.

Tip: There are several ways to do this. One way is to set up a Qualtrics event survey. Another way is to have a break between the main event and Q&A to allow attendees time to submit written questions through a question box. If you use a question box, make sure that there is someone who can help to write down the questions for attendees who are not able to do so or who need interpretation assistance.

When Presenting in Front of an Audience

  • Be mindful of your timing so that all presenters have adequate time to participate in the conversation and the audience has adequate time for questions.
  • Check-in with your audience periodically to make sure they are comfortable with the pace and volume.
  • Give people a pause to read your PowerPoint slides before speaking.
  • Try not to rush as that can create challenges for interpreters or captioning services.
  • Describe images, photographs, or other visuals out loud using accessible language.
  • Ask people to introduce themselves by name when they talk during a meeting or an event.
  • Consider introducing yourself with your personal pronouns to destigmatize pronoun sharing and make trans and nonbinary attendees feel safer.
  • Repeat audience questions. This can provide better access for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, and for people with different learning approaches.
  • Be mindful of the ways that your own identities may have an impact on your audience, especially if you are not a member of the group that you are presenting about: Remember: “Nothing About Us Without Us!”

Slideshows and Other Digital Materials

  • When possible, provide audio recordings of any talk transcripts or other printed materials in addition to PDF and Word files.
  • Be sensitive to things that may trigger anxiety in members of your audience and give attendees warning of any material that has the potential to be emotionally traumatizing. Review this Introduction to Content Warnings and Trigger Warnings from the University of Michigan to learn more about content warnings, including a specific list of common triggers.
  • PowerPoint Slides should be in large print format: use at least an 18-point sans serif font in high contrast colors. Don’t put too much information on a single slide.
  • Provide an array of formats for all materials: PDF or Word (including text-to-speech), audio recording, etc.
  • Consider having physical handouts of materials such as slide decks or talk notes/scripts to make it easier for attendees to follow along with the presenter.

Film and Video

  • Whenever possible, contact the filmmaker or video creator to obtain a version that is captioned.
  • Films may not be accessible to the Blind and others with visual impairments without the presence of descriptive audio. While audio description is less common than captioning, streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Max are making it easier to find videos that include descriptive audio.
  • If materials are sent out after an event, provide multiple options for access, including captions without audio description and audio description without captions.

Jump to a section

Please use the links below to jump to the different sections of the Inclusive Events Guide.

Background and Definitions

Before the Event

After the Event and Additional Resources