How to make conferences more accessible

Hello everyone:
Each month I will be responding to a question; chosen from a pool of some of
the most commonly asked ones that I have been asked over the years and
continue to be asked.
This month, I’d like to answer the following question:
How to make conferences more accessible

For many blind persons, attending conferences could be a huge challenge at
times especially so if the blind person is attending alone. I like to think
of this as a two-way street in that in order to make a conference more
accessible to a blind person; a blind person needs to let the organizers
know ahead of time that they will be attending. So based on this, here are
some tips for you.

1. Encourage perspective blind attendees to notify you ahead of time.
2. Ask them to identify what types of things they require in order to make
their attendance a meaningful one. Some suggestions could be as follows:
Assistance to find conference rooms, seats, the bathroom facilities,
refreshments and buffet tables, and conference materials in alternate
formats.

It also does not hurt to have the perspective blind person talk to
presenters before hand if possible. Of course, there is much more that an
organizer can do to make conferences accessible but this is a good start and
if the attendee is going to stay at a hotel during the conference then this
needs to be taken into consideration as well.

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