Online conference platform concerns

As I mentioned in one of our team meetings yesterday, I made the call to provide support for community events to use Crowdcast as an online event platform a few weeks ago, without testing whether the tool was fully accessible. Unfortunately, Crowdcast doesn’t meet the community team’s needs for 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). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessibility), and I’m really, really sorry about that mistake. I acted in a hurry, motivated by the desire to make a powerful tool available to event organizers as soon as possible, but should have thought to test the accessibility of the platform before setting our team on that path. I know better, and I apologize.

Since Crowdcast is not currently navigable by keyboard-only users — thank you to Rachel and others for bringing this to our attention! — it’s not a viable option for WordPress community events to use right now. My understanding is that the company is working to resolve those issues quickly, so I hold out hope that we’ll be able to use them in the future.

This does mean that the training material and documentation supporting Crowdcast usage will not be relevant right now, and that a bunch of people pushed hard to work on docs that we can’t currently use. I’m so disappointed that my error might have either wasted our volunteers’ valuable time or delayed the benefits of that hard work. Kudos to @marktimemedia, @kaysweb, @bph, @angelasjin, @nao, @chaion07, @casiepa, @andymci, @camikaos & @hlashbrooke for their efforts, and I hope you’ll all accept my apology.  

Our team is committed to making our offline events as accessible and inclusive as possible, and we will work to meet the same expectations for our online events.

Next steps

Community deputies are working on identifying and vetting other platforms that we might be able to recommend to community organizers.  If you would like to participate in identifying, reviewing, and testing other possible platforms, here is a shared spreadsheet where options can be suggested and feedback can be captured. 

Thanks for any support you can give to this effort at a very uncertain time for all of us.