For 21 years, the Swedish Forum For Human Rights has been the arena where researchers, authorities, and non-profit associations meet. They come to exchange questions, ideas, and knowledge about human rights. When the world turned upside down, the organizers found themselves at a choice of route.
On one hand, we wanted to wait and see how the pandemic would develop, on the other hand, we realized that a digital solution would probably be required if we wanted to continue hosting the conference, says Malin Slätis, Project manager for The Swedish Forum for Human Rights.
They canceled the physical conference. Instead, they choose to make a rapid digital transformation that would work for their next event. Despite the big change, they did not bend the rules when it came to important requirements. The digital conference needed to be as user-friendly and accessible as possible.
Since we work with human rights, it is important that everyone can take part in the program. We have become good at accessibility in physical environments, but digital was something completely new to us, says Malin.
The Swedish Forum For Human Rights chose to deepen their collaboration with InvitePeople and use their virtual platform for events. They began their first collaboration in 2012. Since then they have developed their registration, how seminars and agendas are presented on the event page.
It felt safe to continue working with InvitePeople. They understand our challenges as a non-profit organization and we’re able to quickly create a solution that suited us.
The virtual conference would offer participants seminars, live streams, and the possibility to interact with one another in break-out rooms, chats, and through video calls. The Swedish Forum For Human Rights designed the layout for the event to make the platform reminiscent of the physical conferences. Here participants could click and enter different virtual rooms to take part in the activities and lectures. Exhibitors also had the opportunity to display their products on digital stands.
The exhibitors could add material and adapt the colors themselves, to make their stand suit their graphic profile. They were very happy with the result.
A test panel from The Swedish Disability Rights Federation was asked to help and detect any shortcomings inaccessibility at the virtual platform before the actual event started.
In this sense, we could detect any shortcomings on the platform before the event went live. Even though it was not possible to adjust everything according to the feedback, due to lack of time and technical limitations, a lot could be fixed. And we did not receive any complaints once the event was underway.
The cost for the accessibility adaptations was shared with InvitePeople. The interest in digital events is increasing around the world. There is an increasing demand for accessibility functions to make them more inclusive. It is an important step in the development of a virtual platform.
It meant a lot for us as a non-profit association, we do not have a lot of resources. InvitePeople adapted the platform to us in a very flexible way. It felt good that we could contribute to making their platform more accessible as well.
In just four months, The Swedish Forum For Human Rights could make a digital transformation. When their first virtual conference started, everything worked better than expected. The event passed smoothly and the participants could see and use the content regardless of which device they used.
We had about 130 seminars in three days. In addition, there were over 100 different participants who were responsible for the programs and exhibitions. All of them had different conditions and resources. So, it was important that everyone could be a part of our transition to this digital event.
It was easy for the participants and organizations to update their own profiles and program text. Simply by logging in to the platform.
We have had those functions for a few years now. It saves us a lot of administrative time. The participants and organizations can update their texts without our help. In this platform, we can really take advantage of the positive effects of digitalization.
Today, Malin and her colleagues feel confident that they have a digital alternative for their upcoming conferences. The next event is in December. Depending on what the restrictions look like, they can now adapt to the conference.
Even if we have a physical event, we can offer digital solutions for participants who cannot travel that far. There are many challenges in implementing digital events, but the investment has given us many new opportunities to reach new target groups.
The Swedish Forum For Human Rights has the tools they need to arrange both physical and digital events. Or combine the two in the form of a hybrid conference.
We are so pleased with the support and the opportunities that InvitePeople has given us. We have felt secure, while they helped us adjust quickly. Now we are ready for the challenges of the future.