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An Online Accessibility Pledge

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Philosophers for Sustainability has a new Online Accessibility Pledge that anyone can sign which holds:

The recent spread of virtual research events and meetings has shown us that philosophy can be more sustainable, accessible and inclusive, both globally and locally. Online accessibility makes it possible to include more fully a host of philosophy stakeholders whose participation is eminently desirable. Among them are low-income, disabled, neurodivergent, international, and migrant philosophers, caregivers, philosophers with dietary restrictions, and students and scholars with limited access to travel funds. Finally, online-accessible meetings make our practices of gathering to discuss academic ideas more sustainable by reducing expensive and environmentally harmful travel.

Going forward, we philosophers pledge wherever possible to organize online-accessible research meetings. Such meetings may be organized either fully online or using a hybrid (online/in-person) model. In both cases, we will aim to make them accessible remotely by anyone who wishes to take part in them while fulfilling other requisite criteria, e.g. has had their paper accepted for a particular meeting, is a scholar in the relevant disciplines etc. We will offer such online accessibility to both presenters and participating audiences, from the start and for all academic presentations or aspects of the event. In doing so, we will take advantage of the accessibility features the online medium affords, such as closed captions, transcriptions etc. Finally, we will require no justifications or explanations of anyone who expresses their wish to take advantage of such online accessibility, nor will we charge unreasonable fees for their online participation.

I strongly support the spirit of this pledge, and I am strongly inclined to sign it with one minor caveat: namely, that in the case of hybrid online/in-person conferences, organizers should probably be able to set aside a particular number of in-person presentation slots (which, to be equitable, should plausibly–whenever possible–be equal in number to the number of remote-presenting slots on the program) and require submissions to indicate which type of slot they are applying for. This is because organizers of in-person events typically need to reserve conference venues, hotels, etc., and so may need assurances well in advance of the conference that some number of in-person presenters will attend (or else place themselves at serious financial risk, potentially violating vendor contracts, etc.). But this caveat aside, the pledge seems to me a very good one for sustainability, accessibility, and inclusivity reasons. 

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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