2021 Annual Meeting Accessibility and Inclusion Resources
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Accessibility and Inclusion Resources

Ensuring an Inclusive and Welcoming Virtual Environment

Disability Accessibility


The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, welcoming, and productive environment for all AERA Virtual Meetings and Events. The aim of AERA meetings and convenings is to accomplish the purposes of the event in a way that supports the presence of all participants or attendees. AERA expects that virtual activities held under its auspices promote the full participation or engagement and belonging of all attendees, and are free of harassment, unwelcoming or exclusionary conduct, or discriminatory actions or innuendo.

AERA expects those speaking at or leading such activities or those participating in them to value and support the diverse, inclusive community that the Association strives to be and that its mission seeks to advance.

The overarching objective of this policy guidance is to engender productive outcomes in virtual meeting environments of varying sizes and purposes that are embracing and respectful of all participants. Although this guidance does not specifically set forth every possible virtual event or activity that AERA holds, all participants in AERA functions are expected to understand the aims of this guidance and to make reasonable extrapolations to specific circumstances. This expectation is consistent with the standards for professional conduct set forth in the AERA Code of Ethics (2011).

Standards for Virtual Participation

All participants in virtual meetings and events are expected to adhere to the following standards of virtual conduct:

What to do…

  • Demonstrate respect and consideration for all people;
  • Listen well to others; enable or create space for a diversity of voices in group discussions, in breakout sessions, on panels, through Q&A, and the like;
  • Be responsible in your use of virtual airtime and chat space;
  • Be collaborative. Be mindful not to exert dominance over others. Consider the effect of relationship, position, experience, and privilege power differentials, and other factors to avoid dominance;
  • Demonstrate that differing perspectives are valued—critique ideas (not people);
  • Demonstrate welcome for a diversity of individuals and their identities—be respectful and appreciative of the contributions of persons with wide-ranging (dis)abilities;
  • Pay attention to whether individuals of many identities are included on panels, leading sessions, being called on when they raise their hands (whether physical or through virtual functions), and having their points considered;
  • Be accessible in how you virtually communicate and, when relevant, the presentation modalities that you use (e.g., voice and shared screen, chat, live or moderated Q&A);
  • Answer questions about conduct concerns in a forthright and complete manner(e.g., when registering or during a review of concerns);
  • Immediately comply if any virtual convening leader or facilitator of an activity/session/event, or any AERA staff member directs a participant to stop a behavior or comment. Subsequent opportunities to address differences of view or concerns are available by contacting the AERA Executive Director or the Chair of the AERA Ethics Committee at  ethics@aera.net;
  • Respect and adhere to all policies and procedures of the American Educational Research Association.

What not to do…

  • Do not engage in biased, demeaning, intimidating, coercive, or harassing/hostile conduct or commentary, whether seriously or in jest (e.g., based on power differential, gender [sex, identity, expression], sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or national origin, religion, marital status, veteran status, age, physical appearance, disability, body size or other physical appearance, or other identities);
  • Do not engage in personal attacks;
  • Do not engage in threats of violence, or threats of harm of any kind. Do not create or contribute to an unsafe or unwelcoming situation;
  • Do not retaliate against or disadvantage anyone for reporting a conduct concern or assisting in its resolution. Do not make bad faith accusations;
  • Do not (a) take/make (in any medium) pictures or audio- or visual- recordings of meetings or participants or (b) distribute them (via social media or other means) without explicit authorization by AERA.

Actions to Take If You Have a Conduct Concern

  • Make a Report: Individuals experiencing or observing virtual conduct inconsistent with this guidance are encouraged to report their concerns to the Executive Director or the Chair of the AERA Ethics Committee at  ethics@aera.net  so they may be addressed responsibly, in a timely manner, and through a confidential process.
  • Contact the Ombuds: Individuals experiencing virtual conduct inconsistent with this guidance may also contact the AERA Meeting Ombuds at aeraombuds@gmail.com. The ombuds is a neutral, confidential, informal, and independent resource who is available to hear meeting participants’ concerns and can provide assistance by identifying options and resources to resolve conflicts or issues — including harassment, discrimination, or any violation of AERA’s Code of Ethics or standards of conduct.

    Upon the request of individuals, the AERA Meeting Ombuds may refer individuals’ concerns anonymously to the Executive Director for consideration, who will seek to investigate, address, or monitor the concerns, given the limitations of anonymous reporting.

    (Note: Currently this support service is provided for AERA Annual Meetings.)

Potential Actions to Address Conduct Concerns During Virtual Meetings/Events

Consequences that may be imposed for violations of this conduct policy include removal from participation, preclusion of participation in future AERA events, and other actions as set forth in the AERA Policies and Procedures of the Ethics Committee (2012).