Disability History Month Tech Talk 2: What Technological Solutions to Attending Events in 2020 Should We Keep in a Post Covid World?

What’s up TR Fans and welcome back for another post on Technology Reviews! As you will have read or heard in last week’s blog, vlog and podcast, this week we’re going to be looking at what technological solutions to attending events in 2020 we should keep in a post Covid world, as we begin talking more about what the new normal will be.

So as we know, 2020 has been a hard year in many areas of society. On one end you have the infection rates, mortality and long-lasting affects of having the virus, and on the other hand, you have businesses going bankrupt. Many conferences and other events have had to be moved online, which divides even more the rich in society with the Upper and Middle Classes, compare to the lower classes, who might not have any other means of attending events. We also have disabled and vulnerable people in all classes, who this year have been told to shut their social lives down.

However, while there are many bad sides to the pandemic, in a weird sort of way, modern technology has made life easier. In last Sunday’s blog I went into how technology, video chats and streaming services make it easier for disabled people to social distance and shield _ which if you haven’t seen them yet, can be seen further down the technologyreviews.co.uk blog, on the Phoebs Does Technology Reviews YouTube, and on the Accessible Technology Podcast on the Phoebs Lyle Soundcloud account. But for many wheelchair dependent people, there will be many technological solutions to attending events this year that will have allowed them greater access to events than they would have otherwise had.

This is a list of some of the technological solutions that I think should stay around in a post Covid world to help bring around better accessibility.

No 1: Virtual Quizzes for Businesses

If there’s a winner for anything that has taken off since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s the craze for virtual quiz nights.

In a normal year, I would go out to quizzes quite regularly. I really enjoy the Christmas and Disney quizzes that are held in local bars and night clubs, and have scored quite well in them in the past, but the reason I put virtual quizzes for businesses at the start of this is because it could be a way of including people who in the next year might still be shielding, and who might still not be able to go along because of underlying health reasons.

Most of the quizzes I go to give you a tablet or ask you to download an app or go to a website to join in, and to join and create your team, you just enter a code. Giving they’re digital anyway, I think they could easily go virtual, if pubs, bars and restaurants want to offer a certain number of virtual tickets, and if they’re still doing deliveries, it could be another way of organising a night with friends.

No 2: Virtual Tours

As many of my Accessible Technology Podcast listeners will know, I am a very big Georgian history Geek, and out of the entire Georgian history, my biggest interest being the Regency, because I am just fascinated by the character of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV.

At the beginning of this year I found out there were going to be a lot of events taking place in Mainland GB about the Regent, and of course I wanted to go along, but because I can’t travel as easily as other people and quite a lot of planning has to go into any time I travel, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go.

That changed after a few weeks when Covid happened, and this is where – without sounding mean to the millions of families affected by Covid – where I think the technological solutions implemented over the last few months have helped me as a disabled person. In the months that followed, not only have I been able to go along to the George IV: Art and Spectacle Exhibition, virtually with today’s technology, but a couple of weeks ago I was also able to attend a Virtual Tour of the Royal Brighton Pavillion, which is a place I’m not too sure – even in better times – I would be able to see fully with me being wheelchair dependent.

Screenshot of Standard Tour Guide on the Royal Pavillion Virtual Tour

What I loved about the Pavillion tour is you get your virtual tour guide in each of the rooms, and if you’re going round on a laptop you can go around using on-screen arrows. But if virtual tours stayed around, what I think should be added is a sign language option for people who are deaf and who might also have a physical disability or a chronic illness, and for you to tap to go forward if you’re going through the tour on your phone or tablet.

No 3: Virtual Talks

Kind of similar, coming up next, we have virtual talks.

Speaking again about the Regency, a couple of weeks ago I was also able to attend a virtual tour on the Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain, hosted by Ian Mortimer and organised by HistoryExtra.

Since again, I can’t travel as easily anyway, I felt like this gave me the ability to go along to a talk which I am genuinely interested in, even if I can’t travel, and I don’t think I’m the only disabled person who, if Virtual Talks and Virtual Tours were packaged together in an All Digital Package, I would pay for it. Yes, I would prefer if I could see everything in real life, but if an event is taking place somewhere historical or in a museum that doesn’t have full disabled access, then as far as I’m concerned, being able to view it online is enough of a compromise. It would also be a way for places to get around the Disability Discrimination problem, which disabled people face daily.

If virtual talks were to stay, I would like them to operate in a half in person and half virtual environment, as it would allow half the questions in the Q&A to come from the in-person audience, and the other half to come from the virtual webinar.

Another reason I think Virtual Talks should stay online, though, is because apparently my mother still likes to use her history weekend twice a year to get away from me since I still live at home, but I have no idea why that is.

No 4: Online Conferences

Throughout the various lockdown periods we’ve had, I’ve also been able to attend a good amount of technology conferences online. I think these would be good to keep around in a half in-person/half virtual environment in a post covid world, because there will still be vulnerable people shielding in the new year, so it would let them still attend, even if they’re sick or not.

What I like about attending technology conferences online is that I’ve been able to learn stuff, as well as asking questions, and I’ve got contacts through them. But something I think they could do better would be giving you the option between asking your question in the chat or sharing your camera, as not everyone will be happy appearing on camera.

No 5: Online Meetings

So at the minute,I’m working as a Citizen Reporter on Leonard Cheshire Change Makers programme, which basically means I report on issues concerning disabled people in the community. Although I’m based in Northern Ireland, I – at some point – could be reporting on issues that are being discussed all over the UK, which brings the fact that I can’t travel up again.

Yes, in a post Covid world, I will hope to be interviewing as many people face to face as possible for my reports, but as I’ve said before, travelling just isn’t as easy for me. So yes, I will be hoping to do most interviews face to face, but if I’m interviewing someone in Mainland GB, I’ll be doing most of them face to face.

But what do you think? Do you agree with my picks, or is there anything else I didn’t think of that you think could help? Overall, I think including a mix of these in a post covid world could make life in all areas more accessible, no matter what you’re interested in.

Published by Phoebs Lyle (Breathe On UK)

22 year old HND Broadcast Journalism graduate and disability advocate from Northern Ireland, interested in politics, technology, and how it can become accessible to everyone, fantasy, and other stuff.

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