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Accessible conferences with a focus on sensory friendliness

Accessibility, sensory friendliness and neurodiversity friendliness at events

When using these resources, please credit Katharina (Twitter: @katheyrina or github: @katsel. My pronouns are they/them in case you need them).


Lessons learned at RustFest 2016

  • Have a code of conduct and make sure to educate visitors and speakers briefly on ableism and ableist language. Give examples of common ableist terms and point out alternatives (this is important). Educate attendees and speakers that it's not welcome at your conf, and make sure the orga team, website and social media presence of your conference conform to that.
    • Make sure there are several ways to contact the CoC team (e.g., phone, email, twitter DM, in person). People have different preferences and abilities when it comes to communication with strangers.
  • Have an inclusive idea of disability and people requiring accessibility/assistance. State that on your website.
    • At RustFest, we had an open accessibility statement. Among our attendees were Blind people, Deaf/hard of hearing people, different kinds of neurodivergent people (especially several autistic people), queer/trans/gendernonconforming people (-> the toilet situation is an accessibility issue too), people with dietary restrictions, and parents of small children (to the best of our knowledge).
    • Be open, willing to listen, and pro-active. Have accessibility@yourconf mail address and make sure someone reads and responds to it.
    • respond quickly
    • be pro-active and make suggestions on what you can do
    • have a dialoge with people and be honest about what you can/cannot provide. People usually understand if you cannot fulfill all their access needs, but good intent is a big plus and makes people feel welcome.
    • Be aware that conflicting access needs for different groups of people exist and need to be adressed sensitively.
    • Provide free-of-charge tickets for people that accompany a disabled person requiring assistance.
    • Offer to reserve tickets for people that don't know yet if they can attend (because of accessibility issues not being cleared yet).
    • Electricity is an access issue, too.
  • Educate your speakers and MCs on ableism and ableist language. See the RustFest speaker's guide, particularly the section on ableism.
  • Have inclusive toilets.
  • Provide a Quiet room, if possible. Consider "quiet areas" if a separate room is not possible. Make sure the quiet room does not double as a nursing room, for example.
  • Implement a Scent and smoking policy and make sure all attendees know about it ahead of time.
  • Be aware that not everyone can see or read signs you put up at the venue, so again: Provide as much information as possible on your website in advance, and have it repeated out loud by the MCs at the conference.

Links auf deutsch

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