This post is Part 3 of 3 in a series of blog posts I’ve written this week about disability accommodation, accessibility, and finally, conferences. In the first post, I pointed out the massive difference between accommodation and accessibility:
Accommodation. A long, arduous word. And what does it mean? Meeting the needs of? Assisting? Making extra space for? That’s it. It means extra. Doing something extra.
In the second post:
Accessibility, alternatively, means that a space is always, 100% of the time, welcoming to people with disabilities. Accessibility means that “accommodations” are integrated into a space and are not particularized to an individual—but rather created for our society as a whole. We, as a society, are people with disabilities. Therefore we, as a society, build spaces and procedures for people with disabilities.
At the end of the second post, I linked to the accessibility guide of the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication (the CCCC or the “4-Cs”) as a model for creating an accessible space.
I’ll be giving a talk at CCCC in Houston, this Friday at 8am. Given the preposterous time of my concurrent panel, hardly anyone, I expect, will be there.
(Sidebar: Just in case you super want to come see me talk, it’s panel F.23, “Writing for Action, Writing for Change,” Hilton, Room 343A, Level Three.)
Despite my low expectations for turnout, I spent time carefully preparing my talk. I prepared three things: a slide deck, a handout that is essentially a script of the presentation I intend to give, and a 2-page handout with other resources pertaining to my talk.
I then printed my slides and both handouts in large format (the handouts in a sans-serif, 18-point font). All of these materials are uploaded to the conference website and can be downloaded. When I deliver my talk, I will provide a rich description of each slide in my deck. (These rich descriptions are included on the script handout.) I printed 100% of my handouts in an accessible fashion—I didn’t print any in small print.
These are the steps that I take to ensure that all of my talks are accessible to anyone who comes to hear me, even when I don’t anticipate anyone—at all—coming to hear me (because, for example, my talk is at 8am on a Friday).
I do not know whether anyone in my audience will have a hearing impairment. I do not know whether anyone in my audience will have a visual impairment. I do not know whether anyone in my audience will have any disability that will require my talk be accessible.
But, if it turns out my panel does have an audience, the likelihood that someone in the audience will have a disability is actually quite high—1 in 5 is the going rate these days.
And because of the small amount of work that I have undertaken to improve my talk, no attendees in my audience will have to out themselves and their disabilities to ask for accommodations. For example, I will not ask this question: “Does anyone need a large-print handout”—because all of my handouts are large print.
People with disabilities will know that this talk is one that anticipated their presence, that wanted their presence.