Virtual Meetings or In-Person: Which Is More Accessible?
The first time I ever attended a virtual meeting was in the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, I’ve come to prefer virtual meetings to in-person meetings in many ways due to their increased accessibility.
As a person with type 1 narcolepsy, I suffer from symptoms such as sleep attacks (sudden, uncontrollable onset of sleep), chronic fatigue, cataplexy attacks, increased depression and anxiety, and much more.
Virtual meetings have allowed me to participate in activities and communities that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to due to the nature of my disability.
Benefits of virtual meetings
While there are pros and cons to both types of meetings, I’ve found that my attendance is much more likely to be consistent for virtual meetings. I believe that they are more accessible to me and other people with disabilities for a variety of reasons.
1. I do not have to drive to the event
The length of a drive is what makes the biggest difference when it comes to whether or not I’ll have enough energy for an event. I can attend more meetings that are online because I don’t have to worry about falling asleep while driving home afterward.
2. I can nap during the meeting if I have a sleep attack
Usually, my sleep attacks pass faster if I just close my eyes and allow my brain to rest while lying in a comfortable position. This obviously results in napping, but not always. Even just closing my eyes for a while can help a sleep attack pass due to my body’s ability to microsleep. All I have to do before napping is turn my camera off. Then I can rejoin the virtual meeting as soon as I feel better (which sometimes doesn’t happen). This brings me to point number 3.
3. I can sneak out early if my symptoms get too severe
Do you know that feeling you get when you stand up to leave an event early and feel like everyone is staring and silently judging you? Well, when it comes to virtual meetings, that scenario is practically impossible. If I have a severe sleep attack during a virtual meeting, I turn off my camera and log out. Simple as that. No awkward glances and sheepish smiles for me.
Pros and cons of in-person meetings
In-person meetings are difficult for me to attend with my narcolepsy. However, there are pros and cons to attending in-person meetings with narcolepsy.
1. Socializing can promote wakefulness
When I am attending an event in person, I am more likely to speak with the people around me or listen to conversations that don’t involve me. Having people to watch and listen to in the same room can help keep me awake a bit better.
2. Unreliable transportation makes reliable attendance difficult
I can’t count the number of things I’ve had to quit or been fired from due to my inability to keep a regular schedule with my narcolepsy. Since I never know when a sleep attack might onset, my ability to transport myself is unreliable at best.
Which type of meeting do you prefer?
Are in-person meetings easier for your narcolepsy, or do you prefer the accessibility that comes with virtual meetings? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
How often do you experience automatic behavior?