How to Make a Virtual Summit Accessible with Erin Perkins

Is your online summit accessible to the deaf community? Probably not, but it's not difficult to change that.

In this episode, we're chatting with Erin Perkins to talk about what her experience with summits has been like as a deaf business owner, what you can do to make your summit accessible, and what to do if you don't think you have anyone deaf in your audience.

Subscribe

Apple | Google | Spotify | Sticher

Resources

Transcript

Welcome to the Summit Host Hangout podcast where you'll learn how to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit, no influencer status necessary. I'm your host, Krista, from Summit in a Box and we're on a break from our regular series format to take time for a couple of fun episodes. Today, in episode 24, I'm so excited to bring in Erin Perkins to talk about accessibility in online summits.

With Erin, we're going to cover accessibility-related issues in online summits that she's experienced herself, how those issues are harmful, steps you can take to create an accessible summit, specifically for the deaf community, and what to do if you don't think you have anyone who is deaf in your audience. Erin has also created an incredible roundup of resources for making your online content more accessible, which you can get at mabelyq.com/accessibility.

To give you some background information on Erin, she's the owner and designer behind Mabely Q, and she's a deaf business owner. Even though design is her focus, she really felt called to provide information and resources to make it easier to create accessible content. When she first started her online business, she was pretty unsure about the obstacles she'd face in the online business world as a deaf person. When she started searching for coaches or online courses, she quickly realized that a lot of the content she wanted to invest in wasn't accessible to her. That led her to try to find a way to help others see the value in making their content accessible. It's what led to our great discussion in this episode.

Since I know a lot of you are wondering how someone who's deaf could be interviewed on a podcast, it was actually really great. She brought along an interpreter to the interview who translated what I said for her. So I hope this also helps you see that deaf business owners can also be incredible summit speakers. Do not rule them out. Without further ado, let's dive in and talk with Erin.

Krista Miller:
Hey Erin, welcome. Thank you so much for being here and having this really impactful, important conversation with me today. I'm so excited to dive in with you.

Erin Perkins:
I am so excited to be here. I'm really excited to be able to talk about my platform with you as well.

Krista Miller:
Oh, I'm just honored to have you here. Before we dive into what we're talking about today, which is really making online summits more accessible overall, I want to hear a little bit more about you. Tell us about yourself, and your business, and how you got started with the discussion of making online resources more accessible for the deaf community.

Erin's Background

Erin Perkins:
My name is Erin Perkins, and I own Mabely Q. I started off as a personal assistant and a graphic designer. My background is in graphic design, that's literally everything I do, but I also have the personality of always wanting to... I'm super organized. I wrote behind the scenes stuff, so I kind of fell into the virtual assistant. I started May 14th of 2018 last year. Actually doing this as my business, I was realizing that I'm more than this, because I get lonely as a business owner. I started joining Facebook group, I saw that somebody would post in an online challenge, I was like, "Great, awesome." I did that. It was off of Facebook, it was super easy, but I came across that they would do Facebook video and I was like, "Well, I can't understand that because I'm deaf."

Erin Perkins:
I reached out and I was like, "Hey, can you make this video caption?" She didn't know how to do it. I was like, "Oh." They asked me. I didn't know how to do it either, because I've always had resources provided to me growing up, so it was never something that I really had to be like, "Oh I need to do this." When I got ready to sign on with a host, I was like, "I would love it if I can get full benefit out of it. Can you make sure the resources are accessible?" She did transcript which actually helped quite a few people else out in the group. It wasn't just me, being deaf. There were also other people in groups that also have limitations, but they would never think to ask for that. Then I also signed on with another host later in the year, and I was like, "I want to work with you, but you do a live video."

Erin Perkins:
She actually took the time to caption all the videos for me. It kind of foot balled into something that was... People just didn't know what to do. They were like, "I want to provide resources", but no one really knew how to go about it. We were trying to figure it out and they're like, "Well, you should do it." I don't was like, "Wait, me? No, no."

Erin Perkins:
Plus, I was like, "No, I'm not comfortable with this, but because I'm much more willing to do the research. There's so much content out here that is amazing, but it's not necessarily accessible to everyone." I don't fault anyone for that. I was like, "Okay, how do I get started?" I sent out surveys to everyone. I used my network really well. I got 130 people to respond to it, which is amazing. As I was reading through the results, most people's answers were time and money. No one has the time to do the research, because everyone that I met are using a one-woman operation. I wanted to create a resource site that would allow people to start with baby steps. I don't want people to feel overwhelmed with like, "Oh my God, I need to create all these resources for everybody." That's just not humanly possible. I think we can find a solution that will accommodate just the right amount.

Krista Miller:
Yeah. I am so grateful for you helping to bring this to the forefront. I love what you said and what you brought up, that people, they're not purposely leaving out the deaf community. They just didn't realize that they needed to do anything extra. It's definitely a privilege that we don't realize it, but it's really great to see that they are willing to help and go the extra mile when they realize they have to. That brings me to a question I was actually planning on asking a little later. Something I hear a lot and I've been guilty myself in the past of thinking this is, "Well, I don't think I have anyone deaf in my audience." What would you say to someone who was thinking that way and using that as an excuse?

If you don't think you have anyone deaf in your community

Erin Perkins:
I think you actually would be surprised that it's not necessarily the person that identifies as deaf, but there are actually a few other people that I've met in the community that I asked them, "Do you identify as deaf?" They said, "No, I don't", but they still need the resources. They don't know how to ask because they were raised completely differently than I was. I was lucky. I was raised where my whole family is hearing, except for my older sister, so my parents made sure we had speech therapy for 9, 10 years. They made sure we knew sign language. Not all parents are given those types of resources. I was lucky, I had those resources. It's really dependent on where you grew up, the resources that the doctors give you, and the resources that the parents are willing to do, and then go from there.

Erin Perkins:
I've always had access to resources. A lot of my friends that I met in college, most of them didn't know sign language. Using the relay like I do actually wouldn't be beneficial to them, because they wouldn't understand the interpreter. They always found loopholes. Now everything's online, video, audio. You really honestly never know. Contact is a whole other thing. There are so many deaf people I know that want to listen to these podcasts, and they're not accessible at all. You really never know. Even if there's one person, that's one person's right to listen.

Krista Miller:
Exactly. Yeah. There is really no way to know. Even if you ask, you're not going to know. The best thing to do is assume that there's even one person that you can help by doing what we will talk about today. Let's transition and talk about online summit specifically. Have you participated in online summits before and if so, how? Were you an attendee? Were you a speaker? How have you interacted with summits?

Erin's experience with summits

Erin Perkins:
I participated in two online seminars. Some sites, they were maybe all across the course of three or four days. I can hear some, I would have to put headphones on. I really have to focus, but not everyone has a clear speaking voice. There are some people that I could understand no problem. Then there are some people that actually have a very low speaking voice and it's super quiet. Even though you record it's still like, "Wait, what were they saying?" Everyone has different ways of speaking and accents. Accents are really the worst thing for me. Oh man, if I get someone from Australia, don't get me wrong, I love to hear them talk, but wow, they are so hard to understand for me. When I did it, after the first today, I was tired, I stopped.

Erin Perkins:
I didn't even bother, because there is so much information. I want to be part of it, but I'm deterred from it, because I don't feel like I'm getting full benefit of it. That kind of bummed me out. People in the network are like, "I'm going to be on this." I want to support them, but I can't. I'm all like, "Yeah, no, can't do it. It's too much." How do I explain it? The concentration that it requires actually zaps our energy.

Krista Miller:
Yeah.

Erin Perkins:
Even if it's one hour of full concentration, it's a lot more exhaustion than one hour for a person that doesn't have any different ability.

Krista Miller:
Yeah. When we're listening to presentations like that, we can have the presentation up, have Facebook open, be doing something else on a different screen and still get some of the information.

Erin Perkins:
Right.

Krista Miller:
I can't exactly imagine it, but I'm picturing you sitting there even have your eyes closed just listening as hard as possible to try to process the information and that just sounds exhausting. It sounds like the biggest accessibility issue for online summits is the presentations themselves. Is there anything else we should consider with online summits that you've run into? Or is the presentations really the big part?

Erin Perkins:
I would say presentations, definitely. The chat room is not too bad. I like that. There was one summit, I think it was Vanessa Ryan, she did a summit. However, the captions were only accessible in YouTube.

Krista Miller:
Oh, okay.

Erin Perkins:
I couldn't be on the platform where the chat room was. That really threw me off. I was like, "Awesome! Captions!" But I can't be in the chat room. Just YouTube. I found that a little weird.

Krista Miller:
Okay, interesting. Yeah, that makes sense too. What is the most helpful thing for summit hosts to do to make their presentations accessible? I'm guessing that transcripts or captions will come up. Is one better than the other or is there something else they should do to help even more?

Making your summit more accessible

Erin Perkins:
Captions, to me, would always be number one because you get to read it in real-time. I do have some hearing capabilities so I like to be able to read and listen at the same time. If you're lip-reading someone, I don't lip read, but you can actually catch... If I don't have my sound on, and I'm watching the captions, and I'm seeing someone talking, I can tell when the timing's off. It drives me insane.

Krista Miller:
Oh my gosh.

Erin Perkins:
It was way worse back in the 80s. Like, "Oh my God, this is horrible. I can't." Transcripts, that is fine, but I feel like you miss out on the nuances. Say someone's joking, someone's serious, or someone's asking a question, you might not catch that in a transcript. I feel like I'm a much more visual person, so I like to hear. I pick things up better when I hear and read at the same time. If I'm just reading, I just skim through. Some people learn better just by reading. It really varies. If you can provide options, or at least when you're promoting a summit, at least say, "If you have any specific needs that you need in order to participate in the summit fully, please reach out to us.".

Krista Miller:
Yes.

Erin Perkins:
Figure out who your audience is and make sure you have the best resources available. The problem is, I know a lot of times when people are promoting summits, you only promote them for like a week or two, and all the content is already planned out, so I don't know how that would work.

Krista Miller:
Oh, I definitely think it would work. We can talk about the services and stuff in a minute here, but especially going in just assuming that you'll have at least one or two people with some kind of hearing disability and planning into the process having captions and or transcripts. Before getting to know you and talking to you about this more, I would have assumed that... I would've just gone with transcripts, but now I can see how captions would be so much more helpful, because then you can be taking part in the live portion of it. You can be watching the video just like everyone else, picking up on the way the speakers are saying things, like you said, participating in the chatbox live. I think that sounds like the best way to do it. Like you said, including transcripts definitely wouldn't hurt either. My question to you then is what tools have you found that will allow people to do this quickly, affordably, or the best way?

Tools to make your summit accessible

Erin Perkins:
There are actually a few tools. I reached out to a few companies about this, and I still haven't tested them out, but they've been super open and all kinds of stuff. Temi is a subsidiary of Rev. Rev.com does video captions, and they do transcripts. Rev is by people. It's actually performed by people, while Temi is just automation.

Krista Miller:
Okay.

Erin Perkins:
Does that make sense?

Krista Miller:
Yeah. Yeah. I've used Rev before. I've used them for a ton of transcripts. They do such a great job.

Erin Perkins:
Great.

Krista Miller:
Right now it is $1 a minute, and they just launched an automated version for transcripts for 10 cents a minute, and I've tried that out too and it's really great. The automated version, they turn those around within a couple of minutes of uploading them. Having a person do it, I usually get it within a couple hours, so it is so fast. I have not tried Temi before, I definitely need to do that. It's great to hear that there are resources out there, they are affordable, and they're quick and easy and accurate, so there's not a huge barrier to doing these things.

Erin Perkins:
Another resource that I talk to, Quicc. Q-U-I-C-C. I asked them, because their prices seem to be a bit higher, because it's like $12 a month for 10 minutes, $35 a month for 35 minutes, and $80 a month for 80 minutes. I was straight up with them. I was like, "That's pretty expensive." They actually said they feel like they're in line with Rev.

Krista Miller:
Okay.

Erin Perkins:
I asked them, but theirs is more in automation, it's not people that are doing it. I find that interesting how they price that out. It's very interesting. I was like, "Huh, okay. If that's what you say." Let me see what else have I found. I've been so busy this month that I've been slowly doing the research. I've also reached out to a few other people that also have different abilities than me. There is an app on your Apple phone, and it is 30 minutes for $15 and they transcribe your captions on your phone.

Krista Miller:
Oh, interesting. That could be helpful for Instagram stories, that's what I'm thinking of. Yeah, that's good to know too. Something that doesn't require a computer to get it working. Awesome. Those are really great resources that I would love to see everyone start using more for summits. Especially the automated options. Right now if Rev does increase their prices, the 10 cents a minute, that is as quick and affordable as it gets. It's totally worth doing for an online summit to help people feel more included, even if it's just one person like we said earlier.

Erin Perkins:
One other thing I wanted to talk about, I hate to bring it up, because there will be some people that will bring up the ADA law, The American Disability Act law. I don't want people to be scared of it, because there are some people that will say, "It's the ADA law." This law only applies to businesses that are over 15 employees.

Krista Miller:
Okay.

Erin Perkins:
Most of us small businesses, it's about whether or not you want to do it. I want you to feel like, "I want to do it." But also don't run yourself out of business because you're spending so much money on trying to do all this accessibility. There was a person I talked to, she has a different ability than I do, and we both started getting into the whole web accessibility and got to be pretty... It's huge. When I asked the company for a quote on what it would cost to make sure my website is accessible to everybody, no matter who it is, they quoted me 8,000 to 15,000 a year.

Krista Miller:
Oh wow.

Erin Perkins:
I was like, "Um, no. That's completely out of business." That's the biggest thing, I want people to feel like... baby steps, take baby steps. Do what you can do, don't feel like you have to do everything. If you need help with something, just reach out to me, or reach out to your network and see what you can do. There is plenty of apps out for Instagram that will let you caption your stories. If the apps don't work for you like Clipomatic did not work for me at all. Quickly type out cliff notes of what you're saying. Just do little things to build interaction. A lot of us really do appreciate that. I follow a lot of bloggers, and a lot of bloggers have been doing more Instagram stories. I'm like, "I love you, but I can't understand your Instagram stories." I ask them and they're like, "Oh yeah, okay. I'll make sure I do that." It's a matter of asking. You don't demand anything. That is what made people being more open to wanting to accommodate me with anything.

Krista Miller:
Yeah. I love your point about baby steps. Even if you just start making a little effort to include people, you are making a difference. Like we talked about with the 10 cents a minute captions, that's probably about $3 per summit video, which is a great step in the right direction for not a ton of money. I thank you for just letting us know that the baby steps are okay, as long as we're trying. I would love to know what the number one takeaway is that you would want summit hosts to get from what we talked about today.

Key Takeaway

Erin Perkins:
I think I just want people to realize that there is going to be one person out there. My biggest thing right now is I'm wanting to flip the script a little bit. I would love if, instead of people saying disabilities and using the word differently-abled. I don't know what it's like to be hearing, at all. I don't. I never knew what it's like. To me, I'm just differently-abled than you. We just have different abilities. I'm trying to get the script and flip it. A lot of us actually prefer to be called that, and not hearing impaired, because hearing impaired just sounds like a negative tone.

Krista Miller:
Yeah.

Erin Perkins:
My biggest thing is always to ask them how they would like to communicate because everyone has a different way of wanting to communicate. Not everyone can speak like me. I'm fortunate that my parents had that ability to make sure I took speech therapy, so I'm very lucky with that. I'm trying to get more deaf people into this community because then your audience creates some of the most amazing content. There's money to be made out here from the resources you provide. I really want to keep that going. I just want to be a support to show that we can work together really well and we're not just another box that you need to check off.

Krista Miller:
Yes. I'm so glad you brought that stuff up too that we need to get better at listening to what your preferences are, how you want content provided for you, how you want be referred to. I'm just really thankful that you are starting to teach us, because we don't know otherwise. I would love to know where everyone else can go to learn more about you and keep up with the resources you are creating and what you're doing online.

Erin Perkins:
If you go to my website, maybelyq.com/Accessibility. I am still working on the resource side. I ended up connecting with a few other people that I think will provide valuable insight as well. I wanted it out yesterday on July 31st. That did not happen. Life happens. It will be a free resource site that you can print out and keep with you. I'm hoping it'll be something that will provide people with simple step by step of what tools they can use and how to use it so they don't feel like overwhelmed with like, "Oh my God, I have to caption all my videos." Don't feel attacked. It's all good. Just baby steps.

Krista Miller:
Yes. Wow. Thank you so much. I am definitely going to link to that resource page. I am so grateful that you are creating stuff like this and really helping everybody. I'm hoping anyone listening to this will be able to start taking even small steps towards making their events more accessible. I thank you for making it possible. Thanks for being on today.

I hope this episode helped you realize the importance of making your summits accessible and how easy it can be. Any amount of effort you can put in is worth it to allow even one person to experience your summit when they wouldn't have been able to otherwise, and who have felt pretty left out.

Be sure to check out the resources and information Erin has put together for us on creating accessible content. In the next episode, we'll be chatting about a little of my story before I hosted my first summit, and how self-doubt held me back from doing it for a really long time. If you're feeling intimidated by the idea of hosting a summit, definitely tune in for that. I think it will help you see what can be possible for you if you just get over that fear. Now go out and take action to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit.

Resources

About Erin

Erin Perkins is the owner and designer behind Mabely Q and she’s a deaf business owner. Even though design is her focus, she felt called to provide information and resources to make it easier to create content accessible. 

When she started her online business, she was unsure about the obstacles she’d face in the online business world as a deaf person. When she started searching for coaches or online courses she quickly realized that a lot of the content she was considering investing in wasn’t accessible to her. That led her to trying to find a way to see the value in making their content accessible and she’s been doing incredible work.

Erin's resourcesWebsite | Instagram 

View related episodes >>

Close

50% Complete

Free: Virtual Summit Prep Timeline

Learn how much time to set aside for planning and launching your profitable, stress-free online summit and use my calculator to set the due dates for you.