A Commitment to Access at the 2023 Annual Meeting

February 2023

As an association, AERA is committed to inclusion and values the contributions that attendees with disabilities bring to our research community. As outlined in the AERA Disability Access Statement, each presenter, chair, participant, and attendee at the Annual Meeting has a role to play in working together to create an inclusive meeting environment.

“To create a culture that places accessibility at the fore requires an intentionality from all of us, from the association and our leadership as we plan the meeting, to the vendors who work with us to deliver meeting services, and to those who attend and present at the meeting,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine.

For the place-based 2023 Annual Meeting in Chicago on April 13–16, sign language interpretation and captioning will be provided for all plenaries and selected other major sessions, including the Opening Plenary, the Presidential Address, the AERA Distinguished Lecture, the Wallace Foundation Distinguished Lecture, the Social Justice in Education Award Lecture, and the AERA Awards Ceremony, among other sessions. For the virtual meeting on May 4–5, AI captioning (i.e., computer-generated) will be provided for all sessions except poster sessions delivered through the virtual platform. A shuttle bus for attendees with disabilities will provide transportation between meeting venues.

The AERA i-Presentation Gallery, which will host 2023 electronic presentation of papers accepted for poster sessions as well as other paper presentations, has been giving special attention to access. Key features include accessibility controls for attendees with visual impairments, as well as high-resolution images with alt text for text-to-speech readers, high-definition videos with captioning, and video or audio narrations with transcripts.

In addition to the features described above, AERA will provide presenters and attendees with tailored services upon request throughout the place-based Annual Meeting and the virtual platform to maximize participation in substantive sessions, the exhibit hall, business meetings, on-site receptions and social events, and informal networking opportunities. Services provided include, for example, ASL interpretation and live captioning for sessions where it is not already being provided, a reader for an attendee with a visual disability, and a motorized scooter or an assistant for a person with a mobility impairment, among other services.

Individuals registering for the Annual Meeting may request accessibility services at the time of registration. Those who have already registered but did not indicate accessibility needs when registering should email access@aera.net to provide a brief overview of the services they require, noting the dates and times they will be attending the Annual Meeting. The AERA meetings team will follow up to request additional details and/or to provide specifics about the accessibility services attendees will receive.

If attendees are requesting ASL interpretation or captioning, they are asked to provide as complete a schedule as possible at least one week prior to the conference to ensure that interpreters and captioners will be available. Interpreters and captioners can and will remain flexible with schedule changes prior to and during the conference. AERA can accept additional on-site and virtual requests for ASL and live captioning services on a limited basis and will honor such requests to the extent possible dependent on the availability of stand-by ASL interpreters and captioners. Last-minute requests can be made at the AERA Accessibility Services Desk in the registration area of the AERA/Sorenson Interpreting and Captioning Center at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

Presenters, chairs, and attendees should ensure that Annual Meeting sessions and presentations are accessible for those with disabilities. Best practices include:

  • Provide an audio description of all slides, images, iPresentations, and all other shared visual materials.
  • Speak at a moderate rate so that the interpreters/captioners can keep pace.
  • Whenever possible, presenters should keep their video on while presenting in virtual sessions for those who read lips.
  • During free-form discussion, individuals should say their name as they begin speaking.
  • On PowerPoint slides and iPresentations, presenters should use sans serif fonts, such as Arial, Verdana, and Tahoma, and a large font size, and use colors and fonts that have high contrast.
  • Avoid ableist language.
  • Avoid jargon and highly academic terms, since captioners and sign language interpreters, who are less likely to know these terms, must spell them out.

Access is a work in progress and an ongoing commitment for AERA. The association is fully committed to making further headway in better inclusion this year and learning from any mistakes or missteps as AERA grows to do better now and in the future.