ICED 2021 organising committee online photo

Securing - and growing - an online audience | 23rd International Congress on the Education of the Deaf 2021

Fast facts

Event: 23rd International Congress on the Education of the Deaf 2021

Dates: 5-8 July 2021

Format: Virtual


Although virtual or hybrid conferences are becoming an easy choice for organisers in uncertain times, it can often be challenging persuading delegates of the value of the event. Such was the case for the 23rd International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED 2021). When it was forced to ultimately adapt its Congress to completely online, organisers had to convince its target audience – many of whom are deaf or hard of hearing – to join them for their first ever virtual event. Underlying these challenges was the absence of a database of regular contacts, meaning organisers had to more or less start from scratch to build an audience. 


  • Creating a database was key and an expression of interest EDM was the first collection point to build the audience. Arinex then added to this their existing contacts within related industries to help grow the number.
  • Registration packages were carefully designed to match expectations that virtual events should be more cost-effective.
  • To optimise the online experience and avoid technical interruptions, presentations were pre-recorded while a live Q&A was held after each session to encourage networking and audience interaction.
  • The entire program was made as accessible as possible, with market research carried out with members of the deaf community. All sessions were rerecorded in ASL, Auslan and International Sign and with closed captions, and a helpdesk was set up for delegates to receive support via text message.
  • All recorded sessions were provided as on-demand content well after the event took place, to provide more value for attendees.


  • The Congress attracted registrations from around the world, including UK and Europe (16%), North America (13%) and Asia (7%) as well as Africa, South America and Middle East.
  • The on-demand content and positive word of mouth have resulted in at least 9 new registrations post-event.
  • Positive feedback was ascertained through word of mouth and on social media, with many saying the conference “set a new standard”