Disability Inclusiveness Guidelines

In an effort to encourage further disability awareness and inclusiveness among conference participants, we are asking that attendees consider the following:

  1. Please consider asking yourself if using the stairs is a viable option, particularly during high traffic times, and give priority to those with mobility issues and/or other chronic health issues that may make climbing stairs difficult, dangerous, and/or impossible. 
  2. Remember that disability comes in many forms: those that are visible and those that are invisible. Be aware of this as you are discoursing about disability. Assume nothing.
  3. Remember that disability intersects with multiple diversity variables, including but not limited to age, gender, race, and ethnicity. Remeber that not all people are disability identified, regardless of presence of disability.
  4. Be inclusive of those living with chronic health issues, as these individuals are often excluded from the disability community.
  5. Be aware that mental health disability is also considered to be part of the disability community.
  6. Please be aware of environmental barriers and be willing to participate in addressing those barriers. For example, as you move into and out of assemblies, please consider placing chairs back in their place to avoid creating obstacles in walkways and thoroughfares.
  7. Beyond environmental barriers, be willing to engage in dialogues and actively problem-solve disability related barriers. WE WANT THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACT ON YOUR CONCERNS, CRITICISMS, AND YOUR IDEAS TO FIX, MITIGATE, AND CORRECT ANY BARRIERS.
  8. Be willing to challenge your paradigms around time and format of professional presentations. We have included longer time between sessions in order to allow those with mobility issues time needed to attend to personal needs between sessions. You will see that some of our presenters are with us via Skype as an accommodation. This is a deviation from what has been seen in most professional venues. The in-person expectation is an able-bodied experience that assumes that travel is accessible and/or reasonable for all AND IT IS NOT! Without these paradigm shifts, we would have silenced valuable voices of leaders in the disability community.
  9. Please also be mindful of seats that provide clear view of interpreters and/or presenters for lip reading and for people with visual impairments. We will generally ask that the first and second row of assemblies and/or small breakouts be made available to those needing this access. We also ask that you make room for service animal seating in the aisles or in the front row.
  10. If you are presenting in a small breakout room and a wireless microphone has been placed in the room, PLEASE USE THE MICROPHONE. If there is a microphone in your room, someone has requested that speakers speak into the microphone as an accommodation for hearing.
  11. Please avoid use of perfumes and frangranced personal care products based on the following information taken verbatim from the Portland State University website: "The ingredients in many fragrances and scents are known to irritate the respiratory tract, nervous system, and eyes; lower immunity to disease; and trigger allergies and other severe health reactions. In the case of asthma and epilepsy, reactions triggered by exposure to scented products can be life-threatening." https://www.pdx.edu/hr/fragrance-free-value-statement

SPEAKERS: Please review How to make visual presentations accessible to audience members with print impairements (PDF)  from the World Blind Union as you prepare your presentation.

Why do you have ear plugs in your bag?
The experience of sound is another hidden ability that is often assumed.  Ear plugs have been donated by Blue Spectrum in honor of those who may experience sounds differently and at different levels of comfort.  Ear plugs are “one” and only “one” strategy utilized by some to experience sounds comfortably, perhaps by lowering and/or muting the volume. This is not the only strategy but one offered by Blue Spectrum. We hope this can be a reminder to us all to continue to strive to create a safe, comfortable inclusive environment. Please take the opportunity to use ear plugs if they assist you throughout the conference, and during the Dance and Spoken Word events.  Also we invite your ideas and strategies to create inclusion.

If you would like to know more about auditory sensory overload please visit vendors, Blue Spectrum and ACILS….OSILC and let’s talk….

On behalf of the Breaking Silences Committee, Thank you Blue Spectrum.