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You’re getting ready for the Annual Meeting! Great! Do you ever wonder about who goes and who doesn’t go? And why?

As anthropologists, we are trained to analyze social and cultural environments and consider who is and who isn’t present, who does and who does not have power, and why. At the 2019 AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting, there’s an opportunity for each of us to merge theory and practice into praxis. Who among our peers has access to the materials we present? If we present our work at the top of a building that has no elevator access or ramps, then many of us with mobility restrictions may not be able to access the knowledge shared. The same applies to other aspects of our presentations: visual, auditory, linguistic, and more.

Join AAA as we incorporate more accessible practices into the Annual Meeting. What can you do? Below is a list of actions you can take to increase equitable access to the important work we will share with our peers and colleagues while in Vancouver this November.

  • Wear your name tags at all times, and include your pronouns as you are comfortable.
  • Avoid wearing fragrances while spending time in AAA event spaces.
  • Respect the smoke-free indoor environment.
  • Respect the accessibility-designated rows in every session room.
  • Always use the microphone when you speak publicly during your presentation or as an audience member.
  • When using a microphone, prior to sharing your questions or thoughts, first announce your name and, as comfortable, your pronouns.
  • If posting presentation content on social media following the explicit permission of the presenter, please provide content warnings where appropriate.
  • Do not take pictures of people or their presentations without their explicit consent.
  • Do not interact with service animals unless otherwise directed. This includes photography.
  • Do not smoke in service animal relief areas.
  • Avoid using derogatory language, which includes but is not limited to language expressing ableism, racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.

By following these accessible practices, you can help distribute the labor required by disabled, Deaf, Blind, Autistic, mentally ill, chronically ill, and otherwise disability-adjacent individuals to equally participate in our Annual Meeting. Your actions will be part of the groundwork necessary to support an accessible environment and lessen the overall need for accommodations, where individuals are required to advocate for their needs independently instead of being part of a community advocating for all of us. Our collective actions will nurture a space that goes beyond inclusion; as a community, we can foster an accessible environment where people experience belonging.

Nell Koneczny is accessibility and meetings coordinator at the AAA. #AccessibleAnthro #AAACASCA

Cite as: Koneczny, Nell. 2019. “Providing Accessibility as a Meeting Attendee.” Anthropology News website, November 5, 2019. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1301