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 the 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 disorganized or planned at the last minute may not be successful.
Here are a few things you may need to plan for:
- Location. Make sure your training is in a location that meets your 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. In some instances, the perfect location might require a reservation weeks or months in advance. If you do secure what you want, make sure to confirm the reservation a day or two before the training as well. Also, as you plan to use a space, ask important questions. 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 an LCD or overhead projector and screen? If not, can you provide or rent your own? Are there an appropriate number of power outlets available? Are they in locations you can use, or will you need extension cords? If you use extension cords and power adapters, how will you ensure they do not create tripping hazards? Will your training participants have access to computers? Are they Mac or Windows computers? Are they personal laptops with different platforms and software loaded? These are all very important questions that must be answered definitively as you begin to plan.
- Internet access. Does the location have Internet access? Is the speed suitable for you as the presenter and all the training participants to use simultaneously? What is the WIFI password?
- Software. What operating system do participants use? 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?
- Assistive technologies and services. Are software programs and hardware available for individuals with disabilities? If needed, you or the training host may have to arrange for sign language translation or captioning (CART) services. Few things can undermine an accessibility training like facing unplanned access barriers for participants with disabilities.
- Marketing. You don't want to train in an empty room, so it’s important that people are made aware of the training. This is something that you might be doing, or your host may take the lead on marketing. 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. Plan for adequate breaks. Stick to the schedule.
- 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, efficient, and accessible manner.
- Handouts and other materials. You may choose to provide a website address where participants can download presentations and get copies of resources. You may prefer to have each participant make a personal copy of the materials you will use. If you are providing a flash drive with handouts and other resources, you may want to consider bringing these with you to pass out. If you use paper handouts and other paper resources, it is often easier to have them reproduced by your host or at the training site.
- 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
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. Be willing to make changes to better suit your audience. Often you can provide training that will meet the needs of everyone by beginning with overview concepts and principles, then allowing less-technical participants to leave when you get to HTML and coding techniques.
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. 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 always provide them the basics and principles of accessibility first.