Accessibility & Online Streaming

It came to our attention recently that the Community Team selected Crowdcast to handle video streaming for the online adaptation of WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. events. Crowdcast has significant accessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). ( limitations, and cannot be recommended for events that wish to embrace an audience of diverse abilities.

Presenting a conference via online video is complex, and there are no available options that provide all desirable features for a conference.

Nonetheless, in our opinion Crowdcast is fundamentally unsuitable, due to a dependency on mouse interaction & the lack of any support or a timeline for support for captioning.

Based on feedback, the community team is in the process of revamping their plans and writing new documentation so projects can move forward.

Accessible Streaming Setup Options

One example of an acceptable accessible model for video streaming is that used by the WPCampus conferences and by the recent WP BlockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. Talk event:

  • Stream through YouTube
  • Embed their player and chat on the website.
  • Caption ingestion goes through the YouTube player and are embedded separately with a link to the captions so they can be in a separate window

There are many viable solutions to this, each requiring a different set of choices to have all the desirable features; but Crowdcast should not be used on its own.

For events continuing to use Crowdcast:

  • Be aware that speakers with disabilities may be unable to speak due to this change.
  • Please do not use Crowdcast to deliver the public-facing access to the stream.

Other options, such as Zoom, are also viable. While Zoom has come under fire for security and privacy reasons, they are a highly accessible video streaming tool.

Tips for Accessible Online Presentations

Many of the helpful ways you can make your presentations accessible online are the same as those for in-person talks: such as providing captions, describing whats on your screen, or repeating questions.

In the online presentation environment, these same concerns become even more important – unstable internet connections may introduce problems with audio or video that make captions and descriptions of visuals even more crucial.

When you’re presenting online, try to do what you can to give people a great experience:

  • Disable apps that might be consuming your bandwidth, such as Dropbox or cloud backup apps.
  • Use an external microphone, and not your computer’s microphone pickup.
  • Reduce background noise as much as possible.
  • Speak clearly, slowly, and enunciate to the best of your ability.
  • Describe the essential visuals on the screen – you don’t need to give every detail, but be specific.
  • Provide links to resources as you go.

Enjoy your presenting!