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Conference Accessibility for 2014

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Conference Accessibility for 2014

Posted by Jennifer Ann Rode at September 08. 2013
I am chair for physical accessibility for CHI & CSCW 2014 conferences.  Jen Mankoff is in charge of Ubicomp 2014 accessibility.

In my capacity for CHI & CSCW 2014 I've tried to do a few things:
  • I created a survey for Loren to send out to CSCW participants to get a sense of how many participants we have with what sort of disabilities and what unmet needs are.  I am continuing to advocate for a similar survey for CHI though the chairs refused to include it the last two years
  • As I was asked for a CHI budget for accessibility rather abruptly. I asked for funds for clear signage, handouts, and for extra seating for the lobbies as those are known problems.  I am waiting to hear if we have received these funds.
  • I asked for permission to do a site survey myself for CHI and CSCW.  These requests have not yet been approved- still waiting :(
  • Got chair approval to provide SV with additional training on how to better meet needs of people with disabilities for CHI and CSCW
  • Looked over CSCW layout to try to shorten walks at the conference and reception and increase aisle sizes
  • Asked that accessible rooms be included in the CSCW contract (they forgot them)

My plan has been to do what we did for Ubicomp 2011 which was to provide very detailed information on site accessibility, including candid warnings if we felt the site was unsafe. In 2011 we put out an air quality warning and suggested people with breathing difficulties not attend.  I am adamant that we are brutally honest instead of trying to save face about this stuff.  For Ubicomp 2011 we tracked the following for both the hotel and conference venue:
  • Distance from hotel to conference center main registration-- including interior distance- via  curb cuts and ramps
  • How Compliant to which accessibility standards (and which standard)
  • Accessible building entry (what types)
  • Accessible public spaces (elevator buttons at wheelchair height and accessible bathrooms)
  • Accessible bathrooms in public spaces 
  • Accessible rooms (how many, which sort)
  • Assistance with luggage or equipment
  • Transportation Assistance (how to get help booking accessible transport)
  • English Speaking Western style-Doctor
  • Chinese Speaking TCM Doctor
  • Climate control
  • Non-smoking lobbies and public spaces
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Availability of food (when, is gluten free, vegan, no dairy etc available)

I can't do this without doing a site visit as the initial site visit lacked the detail required to even fill this out.  So I am pushing for site visits to complete this information
My vision for SIGCHI is one that anyone regardless of disability can attend if they choose, but more importantly that they know what to expect when they get there.  I know I've ended up stranded, in the emergency room and/or flying home early more times than I can count, and I am still pretty mobile.  I was struck by a paraplegic colleague at workshop pointing out that for her it wasn't safe to travel to locations outside the US, and she pointed out that as my illness progresses it might be the same for me!  I'd like the accessibility committee to provide reliable enough information that people don't avoid traveling out of fear. I would also like to see the accessibility committee involved in selecting venues, and prioritize needs of persons with disabilities just as we do national populations.  And if someone really can't travel, I'd argue we should take advantage of the best CMC available to let them still present.  

Now that this committee exists I'd love feedback on all of the above.  Hopefully, I've started on the right track.  Jen you might share your Ubicomp plans, if you want?  Perhaps we can copy each others best practices to minimize overall workload.  

I'd also love volunteers to work on specific aspects. Anyone?   To that end we also need more people on the committee.  I suspect we've all done more than our share on these issues already.


Re: Conference Accessibility for 2014

Posted by Jennifer Ann Rode at September 20. 2013
Now that the CHI deadline has passed... Are you able to see this message? I am wondering if you have to log in to see messages.

Jennifer Rode
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