In order to have an accessible unconference, we must confront several challenges, depending on the area of accesibility. We will address each individually below, but first want to present a statement of principle on which all of these plans will be based: In order to maximize the voices of Americans with disabilities at the NCD quarterly meeting unconference, we are holding simultaneous user-organized sessions to discuss topics of choice. While we will in general augment the accessibility resources that are available for a standard meeting, we cannot simply multiply everything by the number of these conversations. Consequently, while we will augment these resources, we will alow each community of need the discretion to allocate these resources as they see fit, in the spirit of the self-organization on which the conference is based.
The currently proposed venue for the conference is the Ed Roberts Campus. Because the campus was designed specifically to serve as a model for mobility accessibility, we do not anticipate additional challenges in accessing the venue or any of the resources within. A point was raised, however, about the ease of access for people with visual imparment. A hotel venue is being explored that has easy access to BART, and regular shuttle service is being considered. Details will be posted as they are available.
The standard interpretation resources available for the NCD quarterly meeting include a single CART reporter, as well as a single team of two sign language interpreters. In order to provide access to the simultaneous user sessions, we will add a team of interpreters, bring the total to four sign language interpreters and a CART reporter. During the self-organization, users of these resources (and the interpreters) can choose where they would like to allocate the resources, based on participant interest and need, including negotiating the single assignment of interpreters in the unusual case that there are users at all of the sessions in a given time slot. During self-organization, users and interpreters can indicate interpretation or CART support with colored dots that will be available by the boards.
At the single Ignite Ability presentation session, CART reporting as well as sign language interpretation will be available. The CART output will be paired with video from the session for persistent use in online publication.
The Ed Roberts campus was designed for access by people with visual impairment, and incorporates some novel features. We will be adding some challenges in the way in which we will be self-organizing. First, a large whiteboard will be the organizing document, and it (and its online counterpart) will be the only way to navigate what is taking place where during the conference. An NCD staff member or volunteer will be available by the whiteboard to assist anyone who needs help reading or writing on the board, and the online version will be updated regularly to reflect the physical board. Because a table must be used to reflect the matrix of time slots and conference rooms, we are beginning right now a test of how to best make a table screen-reader accessible . In the spirit of this conference, we know that tabular information is a constant sore point--let's figure out what works best.
Is it just me or is the spontaneous, unstructured nature of this event stressful? I would be much better able to contribute to a national policy discussion with time to prepare knowing who, what, where and how many will attend. One person's exciting is another person's overstimulating event. Simple, straight-forward formats can help people know when to speak, and follow the conversation. For the benefit of those of us who don't thrive in socially pressured environments, could we structure more parts of the schedule and format?