Also: rural communities can be revived by creating/growing college towns, and more!
I enjoyed this blog post by Amy-Charlotte Devitz about the anxiety that comes along with needing to wonder if events, buildings, etc. will be accessible. She notes:
you don’t want to make people feel like a burden because of their accessibility needs. Feeling like an inconvenience or annoyance is an everyday struggle for me and it is one shared by many others, especially if their disability is not an obvious one.
It’s definitely relevant to those of us who organize events and who teach. Charlotte’s piece reminded me of this earlier Chronicle piece about creating a welcoming classroom, where the author, James Lang, talks about an event he attended related to accessibility. At the event, a student said:
What we don’t want is to be made to feel like we are a burden to you because we have requested accommodations. Many of us already have this feeling that we’re burdening you, and it really helps if you can treat us like you want us to be in your course. We’re not asking for accommodations to make your life difficult, or because we’re trying to get away with something. We want to be in your course. We just need your help learning the best we can.
which led Lang to reflect:
Although I like to believe that I work hard to make my classroom a welcoming place for all students, I had never fully considered the burdens of a lifetime spent making requests for accommodations, and how that might weigh on their understanding of themselves and their sense of self-worth.
On to posters: This video generated quite a bit of discussion on twitter this week. It’s long (~20 minutes) but I think it has an interesting take on the problem (it goes much deeper than just “posters have too much text”) and has a concrete suggestion (including a template) for how to solve the problem. I don’t know that I will use the template exactly, but I have to make a poster for later this month, and I am sure it’s design will be influenced by this video, especially it’s call to use negative space more in posters. (One valid critique of the video that has been made by folks on twitter is that it makes it seem like it’s trivially easy to figure out the take home message for one’s study, when this is actually a skill and takes thought and effort.)
And, finally, this tweet from my colleague Dan Rabosky merged the above themes, raising more important points about accessibility, including at poster sessions:
One thing that everyone can do during regular talk sessions is to use the microphone and not claim that your voice is loud enough for everyone to hear. (I’ve been guilty of not using the mic myself, unfortunately.) This article by Goring et al. has more ideas on how to make conferences more accessible.
A vision for reviving the rural US by creating/growing college towns. Seems very cogent and well-argued to me, and I don’t just say that because I’m a prof who likes college towns. But obviously, we can’t know for sure if it would work without trying it.
Is Galileo overrated?