Sessions/Platforms Access Info

Access statements for platforms used during Bicon 2021

After several test sessions held during April 2021, it was decided that these platforms offered a mix of different experiences and were of use in delivery of Bicon this year. Like any platforms each of these come with different advantages and disadvantages, but I also wanted to give a bit of idea of the flavour of each of these:

Gather

Offering an 8-bit style virtual area (think of 80’s style blocky gaming graphics). This allows participants to navigate around a platform giving an experience somewhat more like physically being in building. It allows for different tables and areas so participants can move towards areas and conversations which they find more interesting or relevant. Communication is via video call with other users around you.

– drawbacks: can be visually disturbing with backgrounds,

won't work on mobiles, requires keyboard to move around,

+ positives: can offer different spaces with different uses, can walk away into quiet spaces but still see others so offers control for people with anxiety etc to take break, allows various skin tones and disability options to avatars, can have several activities available in single space and has more of a being there physically feel to ways of interacting with space and others.

Discord

Offering an intranet style wall of text that’ll take you back to uni day as Goth sitting in computer room (or maybe that just me), very familiar to gamers and offers text and video channels.

– drawbacks: walls of text can feel overwhelming, text based channels can be difficult for those with dyslexia etc, text based channels can be difficult for those with joint pain caused by typing

+ advantages: widely used platform so may already be familiar with, offers both text and video options, allows for screen sharing so can be used to run sessions and groups, widely used by gamers so offers stable platform, can be used on multiple devices (phones, tablets and PC)

Zoom

The thing we grew to love or hate over lockdown. I think most of us are familiar enough with this one by now

– drawbacks: can be exhausting to look at for long periods and most of us have some experience of zoom fatigue (turning off our own face can make this better for many), breakout rooms can be confusing or leave us in empty room wondering if others are coming, no capacity to see whose in breakout room till we arrive (which can leave us with someone we’d want to avoid), variable time lag can make lip reading impossible

+ advantages: most of us are familiar with it so no learning curve to using it, works on variety of platforms, offers screen-sharing and inbuilt chat function, stable platform so less technical issues

Spacial chat

Allows you to join different groupings in same virtual room, to change distance from others which changes volume and gives a more natural conversation type. Being able to give you feel of personal space on a digital platform.

– drawbacks: may not work well on mobiles, worked with android using Google Chrome browser, with it working best on PC with mic and headphones to avoid ‘echo’, at times you need to zoom in to see icons, icons can be dragged round at speed which can be disorientating

+ advantages: good zoom function which has advantage for lip readers, those with issues with vision, can add information to bio which allows you to add information to your profile, you can move away and towards people changing volume of their speech, can see whose in a group before you join, very simple visuals.

Request for help:

We still need testing of platforms by screen reader devices and speech to text, but need volunteers using a variety of these applications to see which ones work with different options.

EDIT- 22 July – we won't have time to change or test new items this year – but please do still get in touch for 2022!