As previously announced, this year's NarraScope will be held on the Gather platform. Gather seeks to simulate much of what is lost when an in-person event moves online: a conference hall, the ability to talk to people and form organic discussion groups, and more.
Here is an introduction to using Gather.
However, with any shift in format, additional concerns arise. Several attendees and speakers have kindly reached out to the conference committee with their concerns over the accessibility of the platform for a number of reasons. NarraScope is committed to helping all attendees overcome, to the best of our ability, any hurdle that might prevent attendance or enjoyment of the event.
To that end, we're working to implement several steps which we hope will mitigate many of the factors inherent to the Gather platform which might impede the conference experience. We request attendees, if you wish to avail yourself of any of these services, to please let the committee know in advance by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have heard concerns from attendees that navigating the Gather space can be a challenge for low-vision or non-sighted participants, as well as present an obstacle to those with reduced motor capacity. To help address these worries, we are introducing the Guides program. The Gather platform allows one user's avatar to automatically follow that of another, and with the help of a Guide, people with disabilities who may find moving around in Gather a challenge will be able to reach any destination they wish to go during the conference. If being a guide for NarraScope 2022 interests you, please email us at email@example.com for more information. There will be a mandatory training session in advance of the event.
If a guide's aid is not sufficient or not desirable, Gather allows us to set warps that can be accessed via a designated warp, which allow a user to warp to a set point within the space. We have designated "seating" in our conference halls for this purpose, to ensure that any user who wishes to use the accessible warp option may do so to change their position within the space. As these need to be set up in advance, please let us know if you want to take advantage of them. A guide will be able to guide you to your warp, if necessary.
Unfortunately, Gather does not provide users with live captioning tools, and manual live captioning is beyond the resources of NarraScope this year. Gather has passed the buck on this issue to Chrome, and suggests using Chrome's Live Caption settings (see more from Gather here). However, all of NarraScope 2022's talks will be uploaded to YouTube for free viewing, subject to speaker veto, after the event concludes. We hope that this allows a broader access to the content of the event, not only for those whom the platform does not meet the needs, but also those who cannot make it to the conference in real-time.
We are still learning the fine points of Gather, and welcome any and all thoughts, feedback or ideas in helping make our conference as accessible as we can. If you have additional concerns, wish to avail yourself of either of the above-mentioned services, or anything else, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you all at the end of July!