Safety Considerations for Virtual Platforms – Safety and Accessibility Policy Templates
Safety Considerations for Virtual Platforms – Safety and Accessibility Policy Templates is part of a larger resource for members of the writing community on personal and event safety concerns, both in-person and online. To see all the resources available, visit our Safety homepage. This section includes templates for anti-harassment policies and accessibility policies, worded for virtual platforms. There is a related section with general safety information for event planners and attendees of virtual events here.
Anti-Harassment Policy (Virtual Platforms)
[ORGANIZATION] sponsors or hosts [VIRTUAL CONVENTION], discussion boards, communication avenues such as the Slack or Discord, social media presences via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., publications, the [ORGANIZATION] website, the [ORGANIZATION] suite and other programs and activities (the “Venues”). [ORGANIZATION] is dedicated to assuring that the use of and access to the [ORGANIZATION] sponsored or hosted Venues is free of all forms of harassment, intimidation, and discrimination on the basis of race, age, sex, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, disability, medical condition, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, marital/domestic partnership status, or citizenship.
This Policy is applicable to members of the [ORGANIZATION] community that participate in the Venues. The [ORGANIZATION] Community is comprised of [ORGANIZATION] staff, employees, volunteers, attendees, and guests.
Harassment proscribed by this Policy includes:
- Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, written, or image-based communications of a sexual nature.
- Creating an intimidating, threatening, or offensive environment by severe or pervasive conduct, including stalking. Written conduct includes postings of text, images, and video, or similar conduct in online or electronic venues.
- Sexual harassment may occur in hierarchical relationships or between peers, and between persons of any gender or sex.
- Repeated written indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile or derogatory slights and insults toward any individual or group, particularly culturally marginalized individuals and groups.
A hostile environment can be created by, among other things: unwanted jokes, gestures, and unwelcome comments or repartee; written conduct referring to touching and any other bodily contact such as hugging, scratching, rubbing, or patting a person’s body; repeated requests for dates or sex that are turned down, or other unwanted flirting; filming, transmitting or posting any communication (such as chats, direct messages, and emails, etc.) or video and/or pictures of a harassment-related nature.
With regard to access to or use of the Venues, discrimination or harassment that is based on race, age, sex, gender, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, disability, medical condition, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, marital/domestic partnership status, or citizenship, is also prohibited by this Policy.
This Policy is implicated when the harassment, intimidation or discrimination is sufficiently severe or pervasive to deny or limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from [ORGANIZATION]’s Venues. It is not necessary that the harassment, intimidation or discrimination have been directed specifically at any complaining party.
Free Speech and Artistic Freedom
The purpose of this Policy is intended to discourage harassment, intimidation and discrimination in [ORGANIZATION] Venues. As participants in the creative industry and fandom, most members of the [ORGANIZATION] community are cognizant of the importance of free speech. However, freedom of speech and artistic and creative freedom are not limitless and do not protect speech or expressive conduct that violates federal or local law, or [ORGANIZATION]’s properly adopted policies.
If the situation is safe, and the person experiencing harassment feels comfortable to do so, they should communicate with the individual engaging in the offensive behavior to let them know that the behavior is inappropriate and request that it immediately cease.
If such behavior does not immediately cease, or if direct communication is insufficient, unsafe, or uncomfortable, the following steps may be taken:
Notify the [SAFETY COORDINATOR / MODERATOR] via [METHOD]. Alternatively, you may email us at [REPORTING EMAIL] to escalate a complaint. Such a report should include the substance of the complaint, date(s), a list of witnesses if applicable, and/or, when appropriate, reference URLs or screenshots.
Due to the nature of interpersonal grievances, we cannot accept anonymous complaints of harassment. However, all personal information shared with our [ORGANIZATION] is kept confidential and will not be shared outside [ORGANIZATION] for any reason without the victim’s written consent.
This Policy prohibits retaliation against a member of the [ORGANIZATION] community for reporting harassment, intimidation or discrimination and for participating in an investigation relating to same. The sanctions for retaliation are the same sanctions available to address any other violation of this Policy.
It is a violation of this Policy for a member of the [ORGANIZATION] community to knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth make false claim of harassment, intimidation or discrimination. Failure to prove a claim of unlawful harassment is not, by itself, equivalent to a false claim.
Sanctions for Violation of Policy
Harassment, intimidation, and discrimination in violation of this Policy is materially and seriously prejudicial to the purposes and interests of [ORGANIZATION]. When it has been determined that a violation of this Policy has occurred, [ORGANIZATION] will determine, in its sole discretion, the appropriate sanction.
Should conduct believed to be in violation of this Policy occur at a [ORGANIZATION] Venue, the [ORGANIZATION] staff, employees, or volunteers in charge of the Venue at the time of the conduct may take reasonable action to stop the apparent harassment and ensure the safety of participants.
Reasonable action may include, but is not limited to, verbal or written notification to the individual that the behavior believed to be in violation of this Policy should be discontinued immediately, and/or removal of the individual from the Venue. If action is taken, the person taking the action shall deliver a written report on the event incident (including a detailed narrative of the incident and the names of all persons involved and of any witnesses) to the [SAFETY COORDINATOR / ORGANIZATION LEADERSHIP].
The [SAFETY COORDINATOR / ORGANIZATION LEADERSHIP] is responsible for the implementation of this Policy and the administration of the associated procedures. As supplements or alternatives to the sanctions of suspension or expulsion, the [SAFETY COORDINATOR / ORGANIZATION LEADERSHIP] may also take one or more of the following non-exclusive actions:
- Warning one or more parties involved that specified behavior is inappropriate
- Requiring a formal apology on behalf of the complainant(s)
- Ejecting the offending party from the premises
- Removing access to [ORGANIZATION] spaces or Venues on a temporary or permanent basis
The [SAFETY COORDINATOR / ORGANIZATION LEADERSHIP] may pursue an investigation in cases when the complainant is reluctant to proceed.
The [SAFETY COORDINATOR / ORGANIZATION LEADERSHIP] will make every reasonable effort to conduct all investigations into allegations of harassment, intimidation or discrimination in a manner that will protect the confidentiality of all parties. Notwithstanding the above, confidentiality is not absolute, and those with a legitimate business reason to know and to be informed of the allegations will be so informed. Parties to the complaint should treat the matter under investigation with discretion and respect for the reputation of all parties involved.
Accessibility Policy (Virtual Platforms)
Thank you for joining [VIRTUAL CONVENTION]. We hope to make this event a welcome and accessible space for our members with disabilities. Our platforms include features such as:
- Live closed captioning for all panels and presentations
- Text reader-friendly website
- Alt-text for images
- Audio-only or text-only engagement
- Recordings of panels and presentations, with closed-captioning, for review at the participant’s leisure
- Low-sensory virtual rooms
If you are presenting programming at [VIRTUAL CONVENTION], please be aware that, by considering the following, you may make it easier for others to enjoy your presentation:
- Make sure that your lips are visible to attendees, some of whom may read lips
- Use high-color contrast and large fonts in projected presentations
- Consider captioning any audio and describing your images aloud
- Warn audiences before flashing or strobe effects, and before sensitive content in your presentations
[INSTRUCTIONS FOR ENABLING CLOSED CAPTIONING AND OTHER LIVE ACCESSIBILITY FEATURES]
How To Access Panels After The Conference
Because of the nature of virtual events, we realize that not all members will be able to attend all the panels due to health, family demands, time zones, etc. However, the panels will be recorded and accessible to all members until [DATE]. [INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO VIEW RECORDINGS]
Quiet/Low Sensory Virtual Rooms
Low-sensory rooms, which require that microphones and cameras be turned off to interact, can be found [HERE].
If you have accessibility questions or concerns at any point prior to or during the conference, please reach out to [CONTACT NAME AND ADDRESS]. Suggestions for improvements are welcome, and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.