Making Academia More Accessible
Keywords:ableism, inclusive education, accessibility, disability, conference
Academia can be a challenging place to work and academics who have a disability, neurodiversity or chronic illness are further disadvantaged, as non-stereotypical ways of working are not necessarily supported or catered for. The remit of this paper is to provide practical ideas and recommendations to address accessibility issues in events and conferences as a first step to improving existing working conditions. We start with providing a brief overview of and background to the issues of ableism, disabilities, chronic illnesses and neurodiversities in academia. We then offer a detailed description of the organisational and developmental strategies relating to the Ableism in Academia conference to practically demonstrate how accessibility can be achieved. Despite vast literature available on theorisations of reasonable adjustments and some individual handbooks on conference accessibility, noted the absence of a systematic write-up of a case study that would demonstrate the thought processes required for the organisation of a fully accessible and inclusive event. This paper provides almost a step-by-step rationale and rundown of the decisions that had to be taken in order to facilitate an accessible event. After a brief consideration of challenges we encountered along the way, we share personal reflections regarding the event and future developments.
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