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4 Tips for Making Your High Holiday Services Accessible

Taken from RespectAbility’s “Opening Your Virtual Gates” High Holiday Toolkit

Providing Accessibility Before the Event: On your organization’s sign-up form, ask registrants if they need any accommodations to effectively participate in the event. Additionally, provide a name, Email, and phone number for someone who can assist people with accommodation requests.

Providing Documents to Attendees Prior to the Event: If you are using any documents or a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation for your online event, distribute it to your attendees in advance. This includes online Siddurim or Machzorim, or source sheets for sermons or discussions.

Assistive Apps: Although they will not help with Hebrew, here are some apps available on iOS and/or Android that can provide captioning in English:

The following apps can help magnify your screen for people who are low vision:

ASL And Captioning: The gold standard of captioning is Communication Access Realtime Translation or CART, where a live transcriber types what is spoken in real time. RespectAbility currently uses Zoom for our webinars (including prior to this current climate), which is screen reader accessible. These services may not be readily available before the High Holidays, but it is something worth trying and considering for future services.

Here is a list of some live captioning services you can utilize for your services:

For those who are unfamiliar with American Sign Language (ASL), there is a potential misconception that it is simply a visual depiction of English. It is actually however, a complete language, and so like any other language, it can be translated to and from English, but that does not make it identical, in either idiom or structure. It is in fact linguistically and grammatically distinct. For many speakers, it is their native language, and they may find it far better to watch a service if ASL interpretation is available, even if there are captions.

Here is a list of organizations that provide ASL interpreting:

Please note that RespectAbility does not maintain any financial ties to the vendors in these lists.

Download Full Toolkit: RespectAbility.org/high-holidays-2020/

Meet the Author

Matan Koch

Matan A. Koch is Vice President for Workforce, Leadership, and Faith Programs at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. A longtime national leader in disability advocacy and a wheelchair user himself, he is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School. Koch oversees RespectAbility’s workforce engagement and education portfolio, advocacy pipeline including, speakers Bureau and civic engagement initiatives, and our Jewish and other faith-based programs. He also leads RespectAbility’s California office.

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