Making the transition to an all-virtual conference comes with a new set of challenges, including ensuring that our platforms are accessible for all attendees. This required us to audit both our website and virtual platforms to see what improvements could be made. Here are some lessons learned and things we’re doing to improve accessibility in a virtual world:

Virtual platform and content
All trainings, panels and featured panels will be captioned in English using an AI service. These will be available live in-app and in our archived recordings. Simply click the “CC” box when you enter the webinar. 

Our keynotes will be captioned in both English and Spanish.

Our virtual platform, Socio, offers both a mobile and web-based app option. The web app is compatible with assistive technology and has been updated to ensure that color contrast meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines; all icons are labeled; and images are enabled with ALT text. We’re also encouraging attendees to add descriptions when sharing images on social platforms or in the app.

If you’re a presenter, here are some things to consider to make your sessions and handouts (if using) accessible:

  • Identify yourself by name before speaking. Not only is this helpful for persons with visual and auditory disabilities to identify who is speaking, it also helps captioners.
  • Speak clearly and slowly at a medium volume. 
  • Read out loud any important details in the chat box such as links to documents. Read out loud any questions posed in the Q&A box.
  • Use text that is high-contrast and in a large, legible font, such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Avoid italics and specialty or decorative fonts. Use an online color contrast checker.
  • Using slides? Describe images used in the presentation and read relevant text from the screen for people who have difficulty reading or seeing text and visual images.

We performed an initial audit of the Netroots Nation website using Google’s Lighthouse auditing tool (initial score: 88) and by doing some manual testing. We found that some small changes needed to be made to improve readability in accordance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. 

We improved color contrast across the board and made changes to banners, headers and text to make it easier to read for those with vision impairments. We manually added labels to icons wherever possible, and updated the code to add labels to icons where we could not add a label manually. This will provide image context for those who use screen readers. Our content and page elements are tablable, allowing easy keyboard navigation on each page. We also added tools that allow users to scale the size of the pages on their mobile screens.

After making these changes, our accessibility score improved to a 99 out of 100. If you have problems or see things we missed, please let us know and we will do our best to address them as quickly as possible. 

Community Guidelines
Our Community Guidelines offer tips on how to be inclusive of all attendees, including those with disabilities. A few important things to remember:

  • Identify yourself by name before speaking. Not only is this helpful for persons with visual and auditory disabilities to identify who is speaking, it also helps captioners. 
  • Speak clearly and slowly at a medium volume. 
  • Use “person-first” labels to ensure that people are not labeled with their disability (“person with a disability” instead of “disabled person” or “person who uses a wheelchair” instead of “wheelchair-bound”).
  • “Handicapped” has a negative connotation. Instead use “person with a disability.”

Need assistance?
If you have an ADA-related need, call or text the Netroots staff at (415) 737-6389 or email us at so that we may assist you.