Tag Archives: virtual events

Best practices for accessibility for virtual events

As everyone knows, most of our open source events have transformed from in-person to digital this year. However, due to the sudden change, not everything is accessible. We took this issue seriously and decided to work with one of our accessibility experts, Neighborhood Access, to share best practices for our community. We hope this will help you organize your digital events!

Virtual events can be a wonderful way to make information more accessible to people, including attendees with disabilities, but hosts often fall short in providing the appropriate logistical support needed for this audience to fully engage in the programming. In this article, we’ll go over some best practices for hosting virtual events to make them accessible to the d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Blind/Low Vision, Developmentally Disabled, and Neurodivergent communities. Since some of these accommodations require a bit of planning ahead of the event, we’ll use a timeline format to discuss what needs to be arranged and when.

Initial Planning Stages

Selecting a Platform
When selecting a video conferencing platform for your virtual event, you will want to make sure the platform has the following features:
  1. Ability to dial into the event via phone (see Accessible Event Links for more info)
  2. Ability to assign captioning to someone in the call or via a third party within the platform
Working With Your Speakers
Once you read through the rest of this guide and decide what accessibility tools you’ll use, you should brief your speakers on those practices so everyone is on the same page. For example, if you are going to do an image description of yourself (as detailed in Incorporating Audio Cues), make sure your guests do the same to provide a consistently accessible experience.

At Least 2 Weeks Before the Event

Disability Accommodation Requests
If you are hosting a large event with many attendees, you should provide accommodations like interpreters and audio description without people having to request them. If you are hosting a smaller event (<20 guests), the RSVP form for your event should link to a separate form where you will track accommodation requests. This should be a simple form that collects no identifying information about the person filling it out. A person should not have to disclose their disability in order to request accommodations; an anonymous form will get you all the information you need. The one question you need to ask is: “Are there any disability accommodations you need us to provide in order for you to fully participate in this event?” You should aim to collect this information at least two weeks before the event, so that you have ample time to arrange necessary accommodations.

Accessible Event Links
When sending a link to join a video call, be sure to include the part of the link that includes the dial-in number if you will not be providing an interpreter for the event. d/Deaf/HoH people who can access the Video Relay System (VRS) will need this number to be able to dial their interpreter into the meeting, and it is much easier for these attendees to have this ahead of time rather than trying to ask for it on the day of the event.

American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters
This section applies to events that have a mostly-US-based audience. If you have an international audience, you will need to ask attendees what nationality of sign language is needed. Interpreters are booked to do everything from attending doctor’s appointments with d/Deaf/HoH patients to interpreting for larger scale events. Therefore, they are quite busy, and require booking a few weeks before you need their services. One of the easiest ways to find an interpreter is through your state or city’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services provider. Most agencies are called “(State name) Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services”, and if you search this term you should find the right agency. Most agencies will have you fill out a short form with a few details about your event, and then they will work to connect you with an available interpreter. Once connected, the interpreter may ask you a few additional questions about the event, so they can have any field-specific signs and names prepared ahead of time.

Live Captioning
There are several companies that offer live captioning (sometimes referred to as CART, or Communication Access Real-time Translation) for virtual events. If you are able to hire one of these services, they are your best bet—they know the ins and outs of the technology—and this gives you one less thing to stress about on the day of your event. They will usually schedule a time to perform a test run with you a few days ahead of the event, so you both can be sure things are in working order.

If you are unable to hire a service to provide live captions, most online meeting platforms give you the option to assign captioning to someone. You can have a volunteer transcribe the event, and the captions will show up for anyone who opts to see them.

Interpreting vs Live Captioning
There is a hierarchy in terms of what services to utilize in the event that you must choose between them. The best case scenario, and what you should absolutely strive for, is to have both an interpreter and live captioning. There are many people who can benefit from captions who may not benefit from sign language interpreting, and vise versa. In the event that you have to choose either an interpreter or live captioning, go with live captioning, as more people will be able to benefit from it.

One Week Before the Event

Make Your Visual Materials Accessible
There are a few steps you’ll need to take to ensure that your visual materials (slideshows and pictures) are accessible to Blind/Low Vision attendees. Many Blind/Low Vision people use screen readers, which read aloud the text that is on a screen. Since you cannot use screen readers during a presentation (both because the reader cannot read text in video format and because attendees will want to hear what you’re saying), you will need to provide a copy of your visual materials to attendees either before or after the event so they can review them. If you are unable to share the exact materials, try to share a version of them that has the same text. This ensures that everyone has full access to all event materials, albeit possibly at different times. Before sharing visual materials, be sure of two things:
  1. You are not sharing an image file of text. If you are sharing a slideshow, for example, do not send a PDF printout of the slides (screen readers will not recognize these as text). Instead, download and share a version of the slideshow and send that directly.
  2. You must add alt text or captions to any pictures. How you will do this varies from software to software, but instructions can usually be found on the software’s website or help forum. Here is a guide on how to do this in Google Slides..
Format Visual Elements
People with visual processing disorders, such as dyslexia, may find some fonts harder to read than others. While needs can vary from person to person, it is generally agreed that sans serif fonts (Arial) are easier to read than serif fonts (Times New Roman). Use sans serif fonts wherever possible in your visual components.

Timing the Event
Most people can benefit from a five minute break every half hour or so (the 30:5 Rule), but this is especially true for people with disabilities that impact their need to go to the bathroom, and also people who struggle with focus. Following the 30:5 Rule ensures that people have time to take care of their needs throughout the event, and that everyone will be continually focused and refreshed. Schedule these five minute breaks into your event timeline.

During the Event

Incorporating Audio Cues
When you first introduce yourself at the event, provide a verbal description of yourself and your surroundings. This allows Blind/Low Vision attendees to learn key visual characteristics about each presenter, much like how a sighted person might remember someone by their statement necklace or unique hairstyle. Here is a format you can follow:
“Hi, I’m (name). I’m going to do a quick image description of myself for any Blind/Low-Vision attendees. I’m a (race) (gender), and I’m wearing (color of shirt, notable accessories). Behind me is (color of wall, clock, etc).”
Additionally, when switching between speakers, it is crucial that you briefly state your name before talking. Many peoples’ voices sound similar, and this practice is helpful to Blind/Low Vision people who need to know who is speaking. This is also important for d/Deaf/HoH attendees who are utilizing their own interpreter via VRS, because the interpreter needs to be able to sign to them the name of the person speaking.

Content Warnings
If your presentation includes very loud noises, flashing lights, or rapidly-transitioning imagery, you need to give attendees a 10-second warning before presenting that content. This is a safety measure for people who are prone to seizures and others who are sensitive to these elements.

Verbally Highlighting Key Visual Features
If you are sharing an important image with attendees (a chart or graph, for example), be sure to verbally describe all of the important information the image relays: general trends, names of data groups, axis titles, etc. Additionally, be sure to at least summarize the text on screen (if applicable)--not everyone is able to read and listen at the same time. Blind/Low Vision attendees will not be able to fully participate in your event if they are not getting the same access to information as sighted people are.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions from the Interpreter
Sometimes, an interpreter may need to ask for clarification on something you said, either because your audio cut out, or because you used a term they have not heard before and they want to make sure they are signing it correctly. Answer interpreter questions right away, so d/Deaf/HoH attendees are able to keep up with what you’re saying.

By following these guidelines, you will ensure that your event is inclusive and engaging for all attendees. If you have questions on how to implement some of these measures, or about how your organization can benefit from becoming more accessible, visit neighborhoodaccess.org to chat with our Accessibility Consulting Team. Let’s work together to create virtual events that work for everyone!

Introduction by Teresa Terasaki, Google Open Source Programs Office
Guidelines by guest author Juliana Good, Founder and Consulting Lead – Neighborhood Access

Get ready for BazelCon 2020

With only 24 hours to go, BazelCon 2020 is shaping up to be a much anticipated gathering for the Bazel community and broader Build ecosystem. With over 1000 attendees, presentations by Googlers, as well as talks from industry Build leaders from Twitter, Dropbox, Uber, Pinterest, GrabTaxi, and more, we hope BazelCon 2020 will provide an opportunity for knowledge sharing, networking, and community building.

I am very excited by the keynote announcements, the migration stories at Twitter, Pinterest, and CarGurus, as well as technical deep dives on Bazel persistent workers, incompatible target skipping, migrating from Gradle to Bazel, and more. The “sold out” Birds of a Feather sessions and the Live Q&A with the Bazel team will bring the community together to discuss design docs, look at landings, and provide feedback on the direction of Bazel and the entire ecosystem.

We are also pleased to announce that, starting with the next major release (4.0), Bazel will support Long Term Support (LTS) releases as well as regular Rolling releases.

Some benefits of this new release cadence are:
  • Bazel will release stable, supported LTS releases on a predictable schedule with a long window without breaking changes
  • Bazel contributors / rules owners can prepare to support future LTS releases via rolling releases.
  • Bazel users can choose the release cadence that works best for them, since we will offer both LTS releases and rolling releases.
Long Term Support (LTS) releases:
  • We will create an LTS release every ~9 months => new LTS release branch, increment major version number.
  • Each LTS release will include all new features, bug fixes and (breaking) changes since the last major version.
  • Bazel will actively support each LTS branch for 9 months with critical bug fixes, but no new features.
  • Thereafter, Bazel will provide maintenance for two additional years with only security and OS compatibility fixes.
  • Bazel Federation reboot: Bazel will provide strong guidance about the ruleset versions that should be used with each Bazel release so that each user will not have to manage interoperability themselves.
Make sure that you register at http://goo.gle/bazelcon to be a part of the excitement of the premier build conference!

See you all at BazelCon 2020!

By Joe Hicks and the entire Bazel Team at Google

Recapping major improvements in Go 1.15 and bringing the Go community together

The Latest Version of Go is Released

In August, the Go team released Go 1.15, marking another milestone of continuous improvements to the language. As always, many of the updates were supported by our community of contributors in collaboration with the engineering team here at Google.

Following our earlier release in February, the latest Go build brings a slew of performance improvements. We’ve made significant changes behind the scenes to the compiler, reducing binary sizes by about 5%, and improving building Go applications to be around 20% faster and requiring 30% less memory on average.

Go 1.15 also includes several updates to the core library, a few security improvements, and much more–you can dive into the full release notes here. We’re really excited to see how developers like you, ranging from those working on indie projects all the way to enterprise devs, will incorporate these updates into your projects.

A few users have been working with the release candidates ahead of the latest build and were kind enough to share their experience.

Wayne Ashley Berry, a Senior Engineer at Over, shared that “...seeing significant performance improvements in the new releases is incredible!” and, speaking of compiler improvements, showed “one of [their] services compiling ~1.3x faster” after upgrading to Go 1.15.

This mirrored our experience within Google, compiling larger Go applications like Kubernetes which experienced 30% memory reductions and 20% faster builds.

These are just a couple examples of how some users have already seen the benefits of Go 1.15. We’re looking forward to what the rest of the gopher community will do with it!

A Better Experience For Go Developers

Over the last few months we’ve also been hard at work improving a few things in the Go ecosystem. In July, the VS Code extension for Go officially joined the Go project and more recently, we rolled out a few updates for our online resources.

We brought a few important changes to pkg.go.dev, a central source of information for Go packages and modules. With these changes came functional improvements to make the browsing experience better and minor tweaks across the site (including a cute new gopher). We also made some changes to go.dev—our hub for Go developers—making it easier to navigate the site and find examples of Go’s use in the enterprise.
The new home page on pkg.go.dev. Credit to Renee French for the gopher illustration.
We’ll be bringing even more improvements to the Go ecosystem in the coming months, so stay tuned!

Our Commitment to Open Source and Google Open Source Live

Most of these changes wouldn’t be possible without contribution from our open source community through submitting CLs to our release process, organizing community meetups, and engaging in discussions about future changes (like generics).

Being part of the open source community is something that the Go team embraces, and Google as a whole works to support every year. It’s through this community that we’re able to iterate on our work with a constant feedback loop and bring new gophers into the Go ecosystem. We’re lucky to have the support of passionate Go advocates, and even get to celebrate the occasional community gopher design!

That being said, this has been a challenging year to gather in person for meetups or larger conferences. However, the gopher community has been incredibly resilient, with many meetups taking place virtually, several of which Go team members have been able to attend.

We’d like to help the entire open source community stay connected. In that vein, we’re excited to announce that Google will host a series of free virtual events, Google Open Source Live, every month through next year! As part of the series, on November 7th, members of the Go team will be sharing community updates, some things we’ve been up to, and a few best practices around getting started with Go.

Visit the official site for the Go Day on Google Open Source Live, to learn more about registration and speakers. To keep up-to-date with the Go team, make sure to follow the official Go twitter and visit go.dev, our hub for Go developers.

By Steve Francia Product Lead, Go Team

Google Open Source Live: A monthly connection for open source communities

Starting in September, open source experts at Google will have a new place to meet with you online: Google Open Source Live, a virtual event series to connect with open source communities with a focus on different technologies and areas of expertise. Google Open Source Live launches on September 3, 2020, and will provide monthly content for open source developers at all levels, contributors, and community members. 
The inaugural event of this series will be: The new open source: Leadership, contributions and sustainability, in which the Google Open Source Programs Office, together with Developer Relations specialists, will share an overview of the best ways to get involved and succeed in the open source ecosystem with four exciting sessions.

Given how the 2020 pandemic has affected the communities’s ability to stay engaged and connect, it is important to us to stay present in the ecosystem. Therefore, we made a conscious decision to build an event series for developers to have the opportunity to hear directly from the Google Open Source Programs Office, developer advocates and experts. Each day will provide impactful information in a 2-hour time frame.

Attendee Experience

After attending several virtual events throughout the Summer, we designed our platform with one idea in mind: to create an alternative platform for developers to gather, learn, and interact with experts, and have fun.

Attendees can interact with the experts and speakers with Live Q&A chat during the sessions, and join an after party following the event! It’ll provide a great interactive opportunity for activities and to connect with others.

Sept. 3 Agenda

“The New Open Source: Leadership, contributions and sustainability”
9 AM - 11 AM PST




Hosted by Stephen Fluin, DevRel Lead and Dustin Ingram, Developer Advocate.  


"Be the leader you want in OSS"

Megan Byrd-Sanicki

Manager, Operations & Research


"5 simple things you can do to improve OSS docs"

Erin McKean, Docs Advocacy Program Manager, OSPO


Fireside Chat: "Business models and contributor engagement in OS"

Seth Vargo, Developer Advocate

Kaslin Fields, Developer Advocate


"Sustainability in OS"

Megan Byrd-Sanicki, Manager

 Operations & Research

Google Open Source Live Event Calendar

Each month will focus on one open source project or concept and feature several speakers who are subject matter experts in their fields. Events take place monthly on the first Thursday.



Sep 3

Oct 1

Nov 5

Dec 3

The new open source:

Leadership, contributions and sustainability

Knative day

On Google Open Source Live

Go day

On Google Open Source Live

Kubernetes day

On Google Open Source Live


Feb 4

Mar 4

Apr 1

May 6

Istio day

On Google Open Source Live

Bazel day

On Google Open Source Live

Beam day

On Google Open Source Live

Spark day

On Google Open Source Live

Jun 3

Jul 1

Aug 5

Sep 2

CDAP day

On Google Open Source Live

Airflow day

On Google Open Source Live

OSS Security day

On Google Open Source Live


Find out more 

Sign up to receive more details and alerts, and follow GoogleOSS@ and #GoogleOSlive for updates on Twitter.

By Jamie Rachel, Event Program Manager for Google Open Source