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Shen-yi Liao

Thanks for writing this up, Helen! (I'm wondering if it'd make sense to make it more like a wiki so people can include links for local informations and make additions / revisions... Maybe, indeed, a wiki on How To Do Stuff in Professional Philosophy could be helpful...)

Just some thoughts based on my own experiences. (Unfortunately, I mostly learned from aspects in which I fell short of my own ideal...)

Re (5) and (6): If the conference allows for multiple invited speakers, I think it is a good idea to start with the more disadvantaged speakers, to ensure their participation. In addition to PhilPapers, I find The UPDirectory http://www.theupdirectory.com/ a useful resource for finding people who are not most salient in my limited mind.

Re (9): I found this link, recently posted by Shelley Tremain on the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog, http://www.adahospitality.org/accessible-meetings-events-conferences-guide/book to be a useful resource. In addition to what you have mentioned, some other things to keep in mind are: a room for resting, audio system, accessibility of parking, accessibility of dinner venue...

And, since language matters, I was informed that it'd be better to use a language like "how we can best offer accommodation" as opposed to "how you can be accommodated" (that is, pointing out disability is a social not an individual issue).

I think it'd be good to offer as much flexibility as possible, within financial and funding agency constraints, for childcare. Sometimes a babysitter is good. But if a participant wants to use the money to have their partner take a day off work to come, I think that should be an option too.

For a concrete example, I thought this page was pretty informative: http://analyzingsocialwrongs.phl.univie.ac.at/accessibility/

Re (7): I think it'd be really good to include information on accessibility and inclusivity in the CFP, to make sure that potential participants are welcomed at all stages.

All that said, I am by no means a very experienced conference organizer or as informed as I would like on all the issues related to accessibility and inclusivity, so I definitely welcome people who want to correct anything I said above!!

Finally, conference organizing is a lot of work. Indeed, it's so much work I basically never want to do it again in the near future. So, I think we should really thank people who dedicate time and resources to giving others this professional good. (Of course, that doesn't mean that we cannot have discussions about how to best distribute the goods.)


Great advice. I would also add it is by no means expected that every conference or workshop will have funding. You may organize a conference asking participants to pay for their own room, board and travel and just arrange to provide a room (or rooms) for meeting at your home institution.

Helen De Cruz

Hi Sam - these are all excellent points. I'd been thinking of writing something about diversity (and the UP directory alas, did not come to mind), and I am glad to hear more about how to make conferences more inclusive and accessible. It would be a great idea to make this into a wiki - given my lack of experience, if you know how to do it, feel free to take the info from the OP to create one.

Shelley Tremain


I have written a number of posts at the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog about conference accessibility and have also discussed conference accessibility in comments on another posts. Please see, for instance, my interview with Zara Bain in which she gives links to some items she has written about conference accessibility. As she points out, disabled scholars should *not* be required to send an email to organizers every time they wish to even consider participating in a conference, as you have indicated. The better idea is to create an accessible environment, rather than to "accommodate" disabled people into an inaccessible environment. Provide information in your initial announcement regarding what provisions you will make available, then list these items and services on your registration form for the conference so that people can check off what they require.

Helen De Cruz

Shelley - Thank you for this information. You can provide links to your posts here, and I can add links and updates to the original post (as Shen-yi Liao says, a wiki would be even better).

Kate Norlock

Thanks for incorporating others' tips, Helen! I'd add to new organizers reading this: Ask organizers of conferences you've liked for anything they can easily share! We pour a lot of work into these gatherings, and have attachments and insights to spare. It doesn't take much time to send an email attachment.

Remember, if you're currently imagining a program, that breaks are good for everyone. I think I heard that from Sophia Wong first, author of the lovely "How can I mentor Someone Who Doesn't Look Like Me," http://sophiawong.info/how-can-i-mentor-someone-who-doesn-t-look-like-me and it bears repeating: Breaks are good for everyone! DON'T schedule your sessions right up to each other, and instead leave five, ten, or preferably 15 minute gaps between papers and/or sessions, so that everyone can attend to their personal needs.

And one more thing: If you're less organized than Helen de Cruz and more like, alas, me, then you can easily overlook or jumble all your emails. For we types, I can attest that creating a gmail (or similar) account just for the conference is an infinitely good thing to do.

Shelley Tremain

The Aesthetics of Accessibility: http://philosophycommons.typepad.com/disability_and_disadvanta/2015/02/the-aesthetics-of-accessibility.html (and see the comments)

Universal Design for Instructors:
http://disability.uci.edu/universal_design/ud_uciinstruction.php (includes information about presentations, accessible powerpoint presentations, etc.)

Building University-Wide IT Accessibility:

Dialogues on Disability: Shelley Tremain Interviews Zara Bain:
http://philosophycommons.typepad.com/disability_and_disadvanta/2015/05/dialogues-on-disability-shelley-tremain-interviews-zara-bain.html (includes links to sites on organizing an accessible conference, including discussion of why conference organizers should not expect disabled philosophers to send conference organizers a “simple email” to find out about accessibility)

Accessibility Guidelines for Websites:
http://www.un.org/webaccessibility/ (every conference has a website)

New Resource Guide for Accessible Meetings, Events, and Conferences:

Inclusive Chairing:
(I wrote a long comment on this post)

Article on Chronicle Vitae: Removing the Barriers to Participation for Disabled Scholars:


Re (7): About replying to CFA applicants. From your experience, is it customary to send a confirmation email upon receiving an application? And how long should applicants expect to wait for a response and an answer? Thank you

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