Conference Planning

Accessibility must be part of planning a conference from the very beginning. Participant lodging, the conference venue, and transportation must all be considered. The digital materials for the conference should also be produced in an accessible manner, and accessibility information about the conference should be listed on the conference website. An accessibility coordinator handles all of these concerns & works with the entire planning team to ensure accessibility for all attendees.

During the Event

During the conference, it can be incredibly helpful to have an on-site accessibility coordinator who handles issues as they inevitably arise. An accessibility coordinator ensures that these problems do not interfere with the conference and provides support for attendees with special needs or disabilities. 

Image courtesy of the American Astronomical Society

Image courtesy of the American Astronomical Society

Featured Project: AAS 227

I coordinated the on-site and digital accessibility for the 227th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. With attendee numbers in the thousands, there were numerous concerns regarding accessibility. For example, I organized quiet rooms, lactation rooms, and ensured there were rest benches throughout the venue. Additionally, I laid the groundwork for future conferences by taking notes on existing accessibility concerns, like presentation formats, speaker podiums, and food labeling. I also met with leaders in AAS Publishing to discuss improving the accessibility of their written and printed products. Although there will always be room for improvement, the accessibility at this meeting was considered a success and serious step up from previous years.