Online Philosophy Conferences and the Online Accessibility Pledge

The success of the first two Philosophy, Disability and Social Change conferences has demonstrated that online philosophy conferences are a viable and accessible alternative to in-person conferences. Philosophers know by now the many reasons why in-person conferences should be discouraged, if not rendered obsolete: conference air travel has significant detrimental impact on the environment; in-person conferences are economically exclusionary; they are usually inaccessible to many disabled philosophers; and so on. The Philosophy, Disability, and Social Change 3 conference in December 2022 will show, once again, that online conferences can be philosophically stimulating and politically energizing venues.

In order to expedite the process of weaning philosophers from in-person conferences, Filippo Contesi and BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY blogger Mich Ciurria have composed and put into circulation the Online Accessibility Pledge. The Online Accessibility Pledge reads as follows:

“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 wholeheartedly support the Online Accessibility Pledge and have enthusiastically signed it. You can sign on to it here.

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