Conferences organizers and professional organizations are increasingly experimenting with practices to encourage authors to create accessible conference materials and publications. These developments may again be of interest to librarians who often archive conference materials. Some of these practices may be useful to IR managers seeking to collaborate with conference leads and authors on integrating accessibility into their planning and practice.
Debbie Krahmer, Colgate University, pointed to examples of this work taking place in the Code4Lib and Digital Library Federation (DLF) communities. Code4Lib supplied conference attendees with guidelines on creating accessible presentations and a Google Group staffed with volunteers to answer questions and address concerns. The DLF has similarly published a guide to creating accessible and interactive online presentations, which includes instructions on how to work with accessible PowerPoint templates. Included as well is the recommendation to retain and share original PowerPoint files rather than converting to PDF, which is notoriously challenging to remediate for accessibility.
Nathan Tallman, Penn State University Libraries, also described work at the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) to improve the accessibility of both documents and conference presentations. The NDSA Communication and Publications Working Group circulated a publications template designed for accessibility and annotated to explain accessibility choices to authors. This template accompanies an “NDSA Style Guide” that similarly includes discussions of accessibility.
Krahmer noted that conference presenters seem to respond well to accessibility guidance. They speculated that authors will take these measures in stride because, when proposing to present at conferences, presenters are highly invested in sharing their ideas. Krahmer remarked as well that accessibility advocates in the Code4Lib community have helped normalize accessibility practices and that conference culture is also an important factor for ensuring more accessible conference materials.
Overall, the NDSA, DLF, and Code4Lib examples illustrate how outreach to conference organizers and presenters may be an effective strategy for both improving conference accessibility and populating repositories with born-accessible content.