Thomas Nadelhoffer

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Shelley Tremain

Usually discussions about inclusive chairing of conferences sessions, workshops, etc. revolve solely around how to make participation equitable between genders. But there are a number of factors with respect to ableism and disability to which chairs should pay attention.

One of these factors was raised by Maeve O'Donovan in comments to my interview with her that I posted on Wednesday, namely, breaks. Chairs should, for instance, ensure that their sessions end on time in order that participants can avail themselves of the time allotted for breaks. Of course, conference organizers should always ensure that they allow for sufficient breaks in their conference programs.

Chairs should also work to ensure that everyone in attendance has access to what is said or signed at sessions. First, all conference session and workshops should have microphones. And these should be used. Always. No one should be allowed to speak to the entire group unless they use a microphone. Presenters should always use mikes; they should not be allowed to stand or roam around the room when they present, unless they have a mike that moves with them. Q&A sessions should include a stationary audience mike or roaming mike(s) for questioners in the audience. If a mike is not available for audience members during Q&A sessions, then, chairs should repeat any question put forward for the benefit of (among others)attendees who may be lipreading and cannot see what they are saying. Chairs should also regularly query their audiences about whether everyone has heard what has been said.

Chairs should also ensure that presenters who use powerpoint in their presentations provide oral descriptions of the slides, including brief and explanatory descriptions of graphics and reading text. Blind philosophers and philosophers with low vision do not get information that may be vital for an understanding of the presentation when these descriptions are not provided. If presenters (for whatever reason) presenters don't want to provide these descriptions, then they should not use powerpoint.

That's a start. I will comment again after I give your question more thought. By the way, it would be nice if you identified yourself by signing your post. :)

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