Alterconf London - all about that access

Last Saturday I had the joy of spending the day at London’s very first Alterconf held at King (they of Candy Crush fame). The travelling conference series “works toward a more inclusive future” by providing space for marginalised people in technology and gaming and amplifying their voices.

My introduction to Alterconf came from a duo of Codenewbie podcasts founder and organiser Ashe Dryden appeared on a few months ago. What left the biggest marker was Ashe’s passion and her commitment to accessibility.

The accessibility of the conference clearly wasn’t an afterthought and is very much embedded in the ethos of the travelling conference series. They covered so many areas:

  • Both sign-language and live captioning were available on the day (with the live-captioning coming from New York courtesy of a Skype feed!) as were reserved seating
  • Free childcare was provided
  • Bathrooms were gender-neutral
  • No alcohol was served
  • Attendees could utilise the quiet room at any point during the day (whilst I didn’t use this at Alterconf, this was a blessing at Nine Worlds last year)
  • A range of diets were catered to
  • And oh honey, the ticketing. The tickets came at no cost to those were unable to afford a ticket with no need to prove lack of affordability. The other tickets were on a sliding scale, with tickets above the standard prince (£25) subsidising the free tickets.

There are probably more things that I didn’t even pick up on and I’m sure that there are problably things that dint work for all attendees but many event organisers could take a leaf out of Alterconf’s book.

Take a look at the code of conduct which, from what I could see, enforced on the day. Now that I’m reviewing the CoC again, I’ve spotted something that I really like which someone extended to me as I stood alone, keeping an eye on a friend’s coffee was the “no one eats alone” rule:

Many people feel awkward about joining existing conversations with people they don’t know. If you see someone off on their own, consider asking them to join your conversation or meal table. When congregating in small groups, leave a gap in the circle to allow others to approach and participate.


[Part 2, coming soon]

Written on April 5, 2017