Organizing Your Training
An on-site training requires a lot of logistical planning. If you are hosting or providing the training yourself, then you have the ability to control many of these logistics. If another party is hosting your training, you must communicate with the host to ensure that everything is in place to allow the training to occur effectively. Begin planning for your training as far in advance as possible. Trainings that are organized and thrown together at the last minute are rarely successful.
Here are a few things you may need to plan for:
- Location. Make sure your training is in a location that meets your logistical needs. Does it have the capabilities you need to provide your training? Make sure that the location will be available and ready when you get there. Confirm a day or two before the training. Will there be support personnel on site if you need them? Does the seating arrangement suit your training situation? Can you make changes to the furniture arrangement? If you are providing a long training, you will want to find out about amenities in the area, such as hotels, restaurants, etc.
- Computer and other hardware. Is a computer available for you to use? What about a LCD or overhead projector and screen? If not, can you provide or rent your own? Is there a power outlet available? Do your training participants have access to computers? Will each student have a computer or will they share? How fast are the computers? You'd better not plan on having them run the latest software programs if the lab does not meet minimum system requirements. Are they Macintosh or Windows computers? These are all very important questions that must be answered definitively before the training begins.
- Internet access. Does the location have Internet access? If so, find out how fast it is. I once provided a training where each student had a new computer with Internet access. It wasn't until the training began that I realized that the entire building we were in was sharing one broadband Internet connection. Everything worked fine, as long as we accessed Web pages one at a time; as soon as we all tried to do something online at the same time, things slowed to a crawl.
- Software. What operating system is installed? What
Web browsers or other necessary software is installed? Are you allowed
to install software before or during the training? What licensing
issues might there be? For WebAIM extensive, two-day hands-on trainings,
here's a list of software that we request be pre-installed on lab
- Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, and Opera. We like to test across multiple browsers. Opera has many features that are excellent for testing accessibility and simulating assistive technologies.
- Trial version of IBM HomePage Reader - external link. This is our screen reader of choice because it is easy to install and use. We also have training participants to test their own pages in HomePage Reader.
- Macromedia Shockwave - external link plug-in This is required to view the WebAIM screen reader simulation and low-vision simulation.
- MAGpie - external link. If we are covering captioning techniques, we request that this free captioning program be installed.
- Assistive technologies and services. Are software programs and hardware available for individuals with disabilities? If needed, you may need to arrange for translation services.
- Marketing. You don't want to train in an empty room, so its important that people are made aware of the training. This is something that you might be doing or it may be done by your host. Make sure that enough information is available and that it is presented in a way that will promote attendance.
- Scheduling. Make sure everyone understands the training schedule. Ensure that dates and times are correct.
- Meals and snacks. For longer trainings, you'll want to plan for meals and snacks. You or your host may be providing these or everyone might have to fend for themselves. Either way, make sure that everyone is aware of how this will work.
- Payment and registration. Make sure that training registration and payment processing is done in a timely and efficient manner.
- Travel. If you are traveling to and from your training
site, make sure that everything is covered. If your travel expenses
are being paid for, make sure you follow accepted practices for the
paying party. Make sure the following have been adequately planned
- Rental car
- Ground transportation
- Additional expenses (equipment rental, faxes, Internet access, long distance charges, copy fees, etc.)
- Handouts and other materials. If you are providing handouts and other paper resources, it is often easier to have them reproduced by your host or at the training site, rather than having to travel with them. Make sure that plans are in place for making photocopies and other materials.
- Evaluations. Whenever possible, get feedback and evaluations from your training participants. Sometimes a training site or host may want to provide their own training evaluations. Ask them if it is appropriate for you to get copies of their evaluations or distribute your evaluations along with theirs.
Planning for content is at least as important as logistical planning. Few trainings are ever the same, because training participants are rarely the same. Get as much information as you can about your training participants before your training begins. If possible, you might want to ask about the following:
- Background information
- Technical expertise
- Role in their institution or organization
- Comfort level with HTML
- Knowledge of Web accessibility principles or techniques
- Whether their institution or organization has an accessibility policy
- Why they are attending your training
- What they hope to gain from your training
As I have mentioned multiple times, trainers must be flexible in the content they provide. Communicate closely with training participants or the training host to get an idea of what they need to and want to learn. You may want to change the training structure based on who the audience will be. It may not be beneficial to hold a training with administrators in a computer lab if the technology is not needed. On the other hand, why teach HTML techniques in an auditorium if a computer lab is available? If your training participants' backgrounds and expectations are diverse, you may consider providing two types of training and allow participants to attend the sessions they want. WebAIM has provided trainings that range from 45 minutes to 2 full days. Be willing to make changes to better suit your audience. Often you can provide training that will meet the needs of everyone. When we provide 2-day training sessions, we usually structure them as follows:
- Day 1 - Everyone is invited, including developers, managers, and administrators.
No technical expertise is required.
- Overview of Web accessibility
- Disability types and how they access the Web
- Overview of legal picture
- Why accessibility is important
- The easiest first steps to accessibility
- Where to start and where to get help
- Policy development and implementation
- Basic accessibility fixes for your Web content
- Day 2 - Specifically focused toward developers, but anyone can attend.
- HTML strategies
- The Fast Track to Web Accessibility
- Multimedia strategies
Although we often follow this template, we try to be flexible in the content and sessions we provide, based on what our audience desires.
Most importantly, be prepared to present what your training participants need. Sometimes they are not familiar enough with Web accessibility to know what information will be most beneficial to them. For instance, sometimes developers want to skip over the overview content and get right to the HTML fixes. We know, however, that without an understanding of why Web accessibility is important they won't understand the motivations and reasons for specific HTML fixes, so we always provide them the basics first - just as we have done in this unit of training.