A conference event

Improving event engagement with inclusivity

At Broadsword we’ve always been led in our approach to events through innovation and the desire to create the very best experiences for our clients.

When we saw the Axis software in action, we knew that it offered something unique for event organisers that seemed to be missing from the competition – engagement for all. We immediately saw how the collaboration software, accessed either via a desktop or smartphone, could be applied to a range of event types for a variety of audiences.

Understanding new barriers

Working alongside Axis on the project for Innovate UK also brought us in contact with organisations such as DICE (Diversity and Inclusion at Conferences and Events) and Purple Goat (a specialist disability social marketing agency). Working closely with these partners brought our team a deeper awareness of the needs of attendees at events, with the main takeaway that a one size fits all solution is never acceptable.

Virtual events have in many ways removed barriers for people with physical disabilities, but for those with visual disabilities, hearing impairments and hidden disabilities, there is still a lot more that can be done for events to be truly inclusive. Accessibility needs should be considered front and centre in the run up to an event.

Discovering the pros and cons of virtual events

One of the supposed positive sides spoken about during the increase in virtual events over the last 12 months has been the opportunity for more diversity in representation at meetings, but that certainly hasn’t always been the case. The conversations and meetings we had with DICE, were invaluable in highlighting the many issues experienced by attendees of events where the loudest voices dominated discussions.  As a team, it led to a lot of internal discussion about diversity and inclusivity at events and how this could be prioritised.

During the pandemic, the use and integration of technology has been accelerated and clients are increasingly looking for solutions for both virtual and hybrid events. Working in collaboration with the Axis team, Broadsword developed a digital platform prototype for Axis where the workshop interface could be embedded alongside the live stream of the meeting using the same functionality serving Q&A or chat boxes.  Participants were now able to see the facilitators screen alongside their personalised AXIS screen.

Using just one device for an event or workshop, was felt to be a significant improvement for those with physical disabilities as well as fulfilling the event planner’s desire for all participants to be able to access everything in one place.

Working with Axis

The whole team at Broadsword benefitted from the collaboration with Axis. As an agency, we specialise in providing multi-faceted solutions for events and the project challenged us to develop Axis Workshops with the aim of creating something genuinely accessible for all. We were very proud of the end result, a tool for engagement at events with applications for both a hybrid and virtual set up.

This post was written by Broadsword Events Group after our Innovate UK-funded project on improving accessibility and engagement. If you'd like to read the full research report, just get in touch via our live chat in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

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