Telecommuting is becoming more and more popular in our busy society. People cannot possibly go to every meeting in person anymore, there is too much to do and not enough time in the day. For quite some time, conference calling was the way to go. You can call in from any telephone and hear the meeting while on the move, or sitting in your own office. You can participate in meetings from anywhere in the world, without the expense of travel. But what if that meeting included presentations and slide shows? In that case, being only there by telephone would not allow you to fully participate, to see what people at the meeting are seeing. Solution, the Webinar!
If you think about it, the concept of the Webinar is fantastic! You can use any computer, log into a meeting and see and hear everything going on at the meeting. If the presenter is showing slides, you can see them on your computer screen. If that person has a web camera, you can even see their body language, facial expressions and gestures. You can ask questions via chat boxes within the Webinar client in use, and feel like you can effectively participate in the meeting.
However, as with any great new technology advance, the issue of accessibility must be addressed. Most of the Webinar clients out there are not accessible to someone using a screen reader and many of the options available have to be activated with a mouse. I could not access the slides being presented, and found that for me, the Webinar was no better than the telephone. That is, until I found out about a new product by Serotek called Accessible Event. This program brought the Webinar to life for me! It worked fantastically with Jaws, but Serotek also has their own screen reader called System Access, which I discussed briefly here some time ago. The use of Accessible Event is easy and affordable, and the presenter of a Webinar only has to log in and have it running for it to bring the content across fully accessible. You can see a demonstration of how Accessible Event works, I promise you’ll be impressed!
The representatives at Serotek that we have worked with have all been fabulous, willing to give us a demo and answer our questions about that product, as well as all of their others. I am extremely impressed with the company and everything they offer. I highly recommend checking them out! As far as the Webinar, I have to say that now that I know it can be made accessible, I will be more willing to participate in them as a means of telecommuting to meetings and presentations.