For months we have been seeing the talk of “return to normal”. I have a previous blog about it here.
It has begun.
A well-known conference for an organization focused on inclusion posted a link to their upcoming conference which would be held in person with “partial” virtual attendance (aka partially hybrid).
I took a moment and thought about how to respond to this as disappointment washed over me.
After two years of FINALLY being able to attend conferences virtually – with FULL access, it is now being stripped away for various reasons. Reasons that in MY estimation no longer hold up. No matter the reason why, you are CHOOSING to make your conference (or parts of it) inaccessible to virtual attendees, which is exclusionary.
Would you expect me to support a restaurant that was partially accessible? “You can get in the door and to your table, but we cannot make the washroom accessible to you, sorry – but please enjoy the rest of the restaurant that we made accessible to you”.
Why would I spend my money there?
Why is MY attendance, comfort, and access a secondary thought?
Why is it “optional”?
Why do I not matter?
To all who hold conferences – this is my call out to you. If you are holding a conference, make it fully hybrid. ESPECIALLY if you are showing up as supporting disability, accessibility, inclusion, etc.
In person only conferences are no longer good enough.
Partially hybrid conferences are longer good enough.
I, as a disabled and chronically ill human, am tired of being an afterthought.