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National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation Conference 2020

Context

Ever since their first event in 1982, NOAH (the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation) has connected  thousands globally. By bringing people with albinism together, NOAH builds a community in which those impacted by the condition can find meaningful support.

The organization's flagship biennial conference, NOAH CON 2020, had to be held 100% virtually due to the pandemic. Moving the event online successfully was essential— individuals with albinism act as a critical support system for one another, and NOAH CON has been a staple of creating that sense of community.


‍Here's what NOAH needed:

  • A way for members of their community to engage with one another naturally
  • An experience that would be user-friendly to those with visual impairments
  • A way to protect younger users from Zoom bombers
  • Capacity for 1,000+ people throughout the 4-day conference

Setup

Here's how Lori Aubrey, from NOAH, described her first impression of Gatherly:

Lori Aubrey
NOAH Administrator

“Upon seeing the Gatherly platform, our team was giddy with excitement about the opportunity to bring people together in a way that most closely replicates in-person interaction. It was the missing piece in our virtual conference plan.”

Leading up to the event, we confirmed with Lori that our high contrast display mode would be user friendly for individuals with visual impairments. Additionally, we created 3 floors for different pre-determined conversation topics to help spread out the flow of attendees. Finally, we set up a separate password-protected link for younger users to mingle and socialize during the conference!

Like with all Gatherly events, the platform shined through in how it mimicked in-person mingling. Like real life, users could talked to who they wanted for however long they wanted, and were able to dynamically form groups with ease. Better than real life, they could instantly search for specific people, and then highlight them on the map via the find feature and send them a direct message.

Results

The first-ever virtual NOAH CON was a success for the organizers and attendees! Many continued to use Gatherly even after the timed sessions were over— just to network and talk to one another.

Moving forward, NOAH's leadership sees the value in using Gatherly on a recurring basis to keep their community connected. Attending an in-person biennial conference, for instance, presents a challenge for many. Spending thousands on flights and hotels has traditionally been the only option for those wanting to attend. With Gatherly, attendees get the same value in a more accessible manner.


Here's what Mike McGowan, NOAH's executive director, had to say:

Mike McGowan
NOAH Executive Director

“I had a number of people say to me that they had been to a number of virtual conferences and they said that this was by far the most engaging. I’m just really blown away by the technology!”

“In-person experiences are absolutely valuable. We had a lot of people say that they missed hugging people! What I do see with online experiences though is that we can create opportunities to connect people who otherwise couldn’t do it — families can easily spend thousands of dollars to attend an in-person conference.”

While we won't be replicating hugging anytime soon, we're super fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to work with an organization as wonderful as NOAH. Feel free to check out an extended deep-dive on their conference in this blog post!


In summary, here were the stats for NOAH Con 2020:

9.5 hours over 4 days
3 distinct floors
850 unique attendees

...and 1 very happy customer! The host of this event has already decided to use Gatherly for two more events, and we can't wait to hear her next success story!

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