The best Scrum Teams are diverse. Diverse teams are more fun to work on and deliver better products. A diverse team will provide diversity of thought because they bring different experiences to the discussions and decisions. Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). An opportunity to reflect on the reality of inclusion in your teams, organization, and customers. When I saw this day pop up on our events calendar I reflected on how Scrum.org is doing. And how does COVID-19 impact our efforts for inclusion?
Support for Live Virtual Training Helps
With the world in lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Scrum.org has shifted to support live virtual training (LVT). LVT allows Professional Scrum Trainers the ability to deliver Scrum.org classes in a digital way. And like our in-person training classes, LVT classes ensure a consistent learning experience adding the use of virtual facilitation, virtual whiteboards, and other mechanisms to ensure that the experience is interactive. By supporting this medium we enable students who traditionally would not have been able to attend an in-person class to attend virtually. This flexibility allows for classes to be delivered over a few days to support this new way of work, or at times that better suit the needs of the students. An unplanned positive outcome of enabling LVT is that having the classes delivered virtually reduces the complexity for students who have some physical disabilities as everyone can attend from a location that makes sense for them.
A brief word from Professional Scrum Trainer David Dame on the subject of diversity, accessibly and inclusion
But virtual is not enough
Yes, virtual training does help students with some physical challenges, but there are other things a trainer needs to think about. These are some of the things that I thought about.
- How do the exercises work? Scrum.org LVT training is highly interactive with the use of small groups breaking out into separate virtual rooms, online whiteboards, and facilitated discussions. These interactive sessions can require rapid collaboration and unique software tools. These sessions may be less inclusive without some level of preparation and abilities.
- What does the agenda look like? Attending an online session requires a different level of concentration from in-person so many trainers build an agenda that has many breaks and is structured around the learner. Breaks tend to be short and more frequent. This works well when you can jump up and grab a coffee, but if that process requires more effort and time for students with disabilities, they might not get the breaks they require and it is more difficult to know in a virtual environment.
- Pop quizzes and surveys might not work. During our classes, many trainers engage with the students through little quizzes or surveys. These may or may not work with students who have physical disabilities either because of timing or technology integration.
And I am sure there are other areas that I am missing. It is a great opportunity for the class to design a working agreement that is inclusive of all participants and for the trainer to seek an understanding of the needs of their students.
Having watched 100s of classes I can attest that the classroom experience is greatly improved when you have a diverse class of students, but only if that classroom, virtual or not, is designed for inclusivity.
Thanks, GAAD for making me think about inclusion in our virtual classroom.