Making conferences more accessible

A student lab showing a man with a cochlear implant talking to a womanAn academic paper titled Making Academia More Accessible chooses to start the topic with accessible conferences and events. A case study is used to to demonstrate how it is possible to overcome “Ableism in Academia”. An interesting and easy read for anyone staging events of any size. Each of the features are listed including; quiet room, catering, live captioning, sign language, PowerPoint presentations, staging, microphone use, ticketing and toilets. The concluding reflections discuss the feedback they received and the ongoing impact of this work. The paper also discusses how academia has to consider the diversity of its workforce as well as its student body and others. The case study comes from University College London and University of Kent. There is a link to a one page summary of the strategies at the end of the article.

Editor’s comment: While there were extra costs involved, especially live captioning and signing, there was no extra budget assigned – it was achieved by volunteer effort and sponsorship. The argument for the economic value of inclusion is therefore lost and will continue to be lost until it is realised the extra cost is actually an investment. It is not ‘lost’ money.

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Conferences for 2019

picture of a large audience watching a presentation.ATSA Independent Living Expo: Sydney on 8-9 May, Brisbane on 15-16 May, and in Canberra on 27-28 August as part of iCREATe conference. Call for abstracts closes 28 March 2019.

Australian Network on Disability Conference 14 May 2019 in Melbourne. This conference is employment related.

Liveable Cities Conference, 12-13 August 2019, Adelaide. Call for abstracts closes 26 April 2019. Key themes: Happiness, Health and Wellbeing, and Strategies, Planning and Design for People. Call for abstracts closes 26 April 2019.

ACAA Access Consultants National Conference, Theme Inclusion by Design: Equality, Diversity and the Built Environment. 14-16 August 2019, Luna Park Sydney. Call for Papers closes 1 March 2019.

AAATE 2019: Global Challenges in Assistive Technology: Research, Policy and Practice. 17-19 August 2019, Bologna, Italy. Note that Universal Design is included in this conference. AAATE is sister organisation to Australia’s ARATA. Call for papers closes 28 February 2019. See conference flyer for more information.

Constructing our World: People, Performance, Politics 18-20 September 2019, Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney. Joint hosts are the Institutes of Building of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. 

​​International Conference on ​Transport & Health – theme: Smart Cities. Disruptive Mobility. Healthy People. 4-8 November 2019, Pullman Melbourne on the Park. Abstract submissions open 6 March to 8 May 2019.

World Engineers Convention – theme is Engineering a Sustainable World: The next 100 Years. 20-22 November 2019, Melbourne. Call for papers has closed.

Space International Conference 2019 on Housing: 29 November – 1 December, London, UK.  Call for papers close 19 August 2019. Aim: to discuss recent advances and research results in the fields of Housing as well as architecture, policy studies, education, interior architecture, city planning and urban studies, social sciences, and engineering.

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World Engineers Convention 2019

The conference banner with the date and placeEngineers Australia and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations are holding their next convention in Melbourne 20-22 November 2019.  Call for abstracts closes 18 January 2019. The overarching theme is Engineering a Sustainable World: The Next 100 Years. The focus will be on engineering innovation, and how this can have a positive impact on our lives by creating sustainable engineering solutions. Sustainability is used in the broadest sense including ethics and social responsibility.

The three day program will feature six streams, with each aligning to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Engineers Australia is celebrating its Centenary in 2019, and this convention will highlight Australian engineering on a global scale and explore the distinctive and sustaining mindset of our profession; the notion that ‘anything is possible’. This also calls for a universal design approach to their solutions and social responsibility.

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AAATE Conference 27-30 Aug 2019, Bologna

An aerial view of Bologne, Italy showing terracotta roofs and medieval style buildings around a square.In Europe the quest for inclusion is about both universal design and assistive technology. Although the AAATE conference has a strong assistive technology focus, they have a universal design strand and encourage universal design researchers and practitioners to submit abstracts. The call for papers for the conference will close 28 February 2019. UD followers can find value in seeing the progress in assistive technology in all its forms, and how it supports and fits with the principles of UD. Papers are published by IOS Press. AAATE is a sister organisation to ARATA (Australian Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Association).

Editor’s note: I have found these conferences very interesting because much of the leading research, funded by the EU, is showcased here. Everything from mainstream universal design to smart technologies, robotics and web developments. At  the 2009 conference I presented a paper with a philosophical take on inclusion, Turning back time for inclusion for today as well as tomorrow.  

 

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Universal design and accessible meetings

picture of a large audience watching a presentation.Even conferences about inclusion, universal design and accessibility can fail to meet the first requirement of their own content – to make the conference and venue accessible and inclusive. So how will conference organisers learn about access and inclusion?  New research aims to promote awareness among meeting organisers and the conference supplier companies about the need to remove barriers to meetings and conventions. This includes the whole issue of destinations and visitor experience for the surrounding area. The report, Universal Accessibility in Meetings, was produced by BestCities Global Alliance, Gaining Edge, and RI International. 12 cities are featured in case studies, including Melbourne, and there is a 15 point checklist for meeting organisers. Final step will be to get presenters to universally design their PowerPoint presentations.  A quick review can be found on the Conference and Incentive Travel website.

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Look at me!

An orange automated vehicle has eyes that appear to be looking at a pedestrianWorried that a driverless car won’t see or detect you? With a driver you can check to see if they are looking your way, but if there is no driver, that can be a worry. Autonomous vehicles are posing many problems for designers who are grappling with most of them quite successfully. So for this problem Jaguar has come up with a car with googly eyes. The “eyes” don’t “see” you, but it can give confidence that you have been detected because the eyes follow you as you cross the pedestrian crossing. I should think that once we get used to automated vehicles, eventually eyes will be phased out. Amy Child from Arup gave an entertaining presentation on this and other aspects of the move to driverless cars, including the googly eyes. The transcript of Amy’s keynote presentation can be downloaded in Word. 

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It was a great conference!

With more than 120 attendees, five countries present and five Australian states represented, it was a very successful Australian Universal Design Conference. The atmosphere was abuzz with like-minded colleagues catching up and new friendships forming. We were welcomed by Meaghan Scanlon, Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development, and Neroli Holmes, Acting Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. The conference opened with Nicki Hutley, who gave us the benefit of her years of research and declared that everyone benefits from inclusion both economically and socially. Lots to think about when it comes to self driving cars and Amy Child covered some of the many aspects to consider. Here are some of the slides from concurrent session speakers on day one – more to come next newsletter:

Thea Kurdi from Canada –  Living in Place:Who are we designing for?

Lorraine Guthrie from New Zealand – Accessibility Charter for Canterbury: Collaborating to go beyone compliance

Michael Small – Developing the conditions to support a universal design approach

Emily Steel – Universal Design in social policy: Addressing the paradox of equality

Tom Bevan – Case Study: Accessible beaches for all.

Elise Copeland from New Zealand – A universal design tool for mixed use buildings. Slideshow was too big to upload but the transcript is provided plus the video below. You can go to the Auckland website to see the UD Design Tool.

 

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IAUD Conference Thailand

IAUD logo with coloured matchstick figures.The next International Association for Universal Design Conference will be held in Bankok, Thailand 5-6 March 2019. It is not clear from the website whether the call for submissions closes 31 August 2018 or 30 November, which is definitely the date for full paper submissions. You can find out more from the conference website. Topics are wide-ranging. This is usually a large international affair. IAUD is based in Japan and was originaly initiated by product manufacturers recognising that the population was ageing. Not the most intuitively designed conference website, but the information is there and also links to previous conference papers that could be of interest. .

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Can everybody hear me? Protocol for meetings and events

Front cover of the protocol for meetings and events. People who can’t hear well at meetings tend to avoid them. This means their voices are left out of focus groups and community consultations. Consequently, hearing issues are not heard or catered for (excuse pun). It also means they don’t go to group events at restaurants or even family gatherings because it gets frustrating and also tiring when trying to concentrate on listening all the time. Ideas for Ears in the UK is actively advocating for people with hearing loss and has developed the Hearing Access Protocol for meetings and events. it provides guidance on how to run meetings and events so people with any hearing ability can hear and follow them. The Protocol was developed by people with hearing loss. You can download the PDF version of the Protocol. People with hearing loss should be able to participate in civic events and activities on the same basis as others.

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Hearing Loops – fixed or portable?

A woman with dark hair wearing a light blue shirt holds her right hand up to cup her ear to indicate she is trying to hear somethingMany people have heard of hearing loops, but few understand the options and how they work. Ideas for Ears in the UK tweeted a blog article with some explanations of the differences. Some systems are suited for face to face customer service, others are suited for large auditoriums. Then there are others that are portable. Knowing which one to use and when is critical for people who need them. Yes, a reminder that one in six people have hearing loss. For an Australian look at these systems, ClearaSound has some good fact sheets that explain the systems really well. However, even when the equipment is installed, the sound professionals or other responsible staff do not check to see if it is working at all times. Also, most systems only work in conjunction with the speaker using a microphone. “Can everyone hear me – I don’t need a microphone?” is not what people want to hear.  You might also like to look at the Better Hearing Australia website. 

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