Virtual Events Platforms, Security and Accessibility
There are a variety of platforms for virtual events from simple video conferencing to complex all-in-one event solutions. Some things to consider when choosing how to host your event:
- Cost - Is the platform in your budget?
- Features - Does the platform have the features you need such as audience interaction, registration, backend management, etc.
- Security - Is the platform secure from potential disruptive users/attacks?
- Accessibility - Does the platform have the accessibility features required by attendees that use assistive technology such as captioning, screen readers, etc.
- Capacity - Can the platform accommodate the number of attendees you are expecting? Some platforms have limits or charge based on the number of users.
Video conferencing platforms that we use for meetings can also be used to host virtual events. Both Zoom and WebEx are available to all Stanford employees, supported by UIT and have a webinar option that provides additional features that are helpful for virtual events. UIT also offers a Virtual Meeting and Webinar Support service to help you with the technical needs and logistics of your Zoom or WebEx event.
For additional tips and tricks for successful hybrid or virtual events using video conferencing software, see these UIT pages:
Note: If you plan to host a Zoom webinar with more than 1000 attendees, you must submit a ticket to reserve an increased capacity license within 5 days of your event. Higher capacity licenses are available for up to 3000 and 5000 attendees.
Zoom Event User Manual
We have also created a Zoom event user manual as a guide to help you successfully use Zoom for your virtual event. This comprehensive guide covers the various roles and core tasks, meeting and webinar settings, troubleshooting info, additional resources, and links.
Livestream and YouTube
You may also want to broadcast to a larger audience, beyond the 5000 limit of Zoom. By streaming your event to a platform like Livestream or YouTube you can expand your audience capacity beyond the limits of Zoom or WebEx. Stanford Video and UIT's Virtual Meeting and Webinar Support service can assist you with streaming your virtual event to these larger platforms.
Professional conference software providers
There are a variety of vendors that provide virtual event platforms. These platforms may have advanced features, but also may have increased costs. See a list of vendors that have been evaluated by UIT.
Security is an important aspect of hosting virtual events that must be considered when deciding on the platform to use. And once you have selected a platform, you should review the settings of your webinar or meeting to ensure they align with security best practices.
Some common security features would be:
- Using a webinar setting: this would mean that attendee's mic/video is off, and they are not able to turn it on unless prompted by a meeting host
- Setting a passcode
- Requiring registration
- Enabling a waiting room
- Restricting the event to only authenticated users
Below are some helpful links to get support to ensure your event is secure:
Ensuring your events are accessible to individuals with disabilities is a critical aspect of event planning, however virtual and hybrid events may require different considerations and approaches than in-person events. These events would also need to follow the Stanford Online Accessibility Policy. Stanford has several offices and resources available to provide you with guidance for ensuring your virtual events are as accessible and inclusive as possible.
Many virtual platforms have built-in tools to help make content accessible. Some things you may need to consider:
- Caption any live or pre-recorded video content for deaf or hard of hearing attendees - Note: It’s important to remember that automated captions are not sufficient when captioning has been requested as a disability-related accommodation
- Ensuring any digital documents or content is in an accessible format for screen readers, color contrast or keyboard navigation, this includes any user participation features such as polling, chatting, reactions, etc.
Review this Digital Inclusion Checklist created by the Diversity and Access Office for reminders and tools to consider when hosting virtual events or online activities.