Best Practice for Professional Meetings

SLLS is the international Sign Language Linguistics Society. Our mission is the promotion of sign language research on an international scale and the maintenance of high scientific and ethical standards of such research.

In order to promote the highest levels of accessibility and inclusion for all, we recommend the following best practices be considered in the planning of conferences, workshops, and other professional meetings during which sign languages and signers are a matter of attention. This would include, for example, conferences on sign linguistics (including TISLR, the triennial conference associated with SLLS), a workshop on sign languages held in conjunction with a larger linguistics conference, regular meetings of a conference during which sign languages are generally included, special events focusing on aspects of sign languages, and conferences of relevance to those who use a sign language as their primary language. Our recommendations are informed by the ‘Amsterdam Manifesto’, which lays out a rationale and proposal for accessibility and inclusion at TISLR and other conferences (http://www.deafacademics.org/conferences/amsterdam_manifesto.pdf), and the ‘Athens Declaration’ which was developed following the 2015 ICED congress.

1. Accessibility. Meetings should be designed to be accessible, and accessibility should be included in initial calls for papers and other announcements about the meeting. Ideally, this means that organizers take responsibility for providing interpreting that will be appropriate for potential presenters and attendees, during platform presentations, poster sessions, and event-sponsored social and networking activities. For international events, this might include American Sign Language or International Sign.

a. As stated in the ‘SLLS Ethics Statement for sign language research’, “use of a sign language should be considered as the default means of communication because it fosters equality … and as such it should constitute the best practice among Deaf and hearing colleagues.”

b. Accessibility also includes attention to the physical space, lighting, visual formats, break-out spaces, color communication, and many more issues.

2. Inclusiveness. Meetings should be designed to be inclusive, taking into consideration that participants (organizers, presenters and audience members) include deaf and hearing researchers and community members, and those of all genders, races, ethnicities, abilities, and styles. Organizers should take these factors into consideration when planning their meeting. For example, organizers should be sure that the design and format of the meeting is representative, consciously planning ahead to make all welcome. Taking the proactive approach of Universal Design is much more effective than post-hoc additions or modifications.

3. Additional information.

a. Please consult the SLLS Ethics Statement for Sign Language Research, found at http://slls.eu/slls-ethics-statement/

b. The paper “Case Studies of International Conferences: A Social Justice Framework for Interpreting” by Patrick Boudreault and Genie Gertz provides extensive discussion.

c. Various websites provide helpful information on inclusive event planning, e.g., https://www.nccsdclearinghouse.org/inclusive-event-planning.html

Approved by the SLLS Board, 11 June 2018