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Axes of Access

Presentation #320.08 in the session Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility in Planetary Science (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Axes of Access

Studies of access to healthcare have identified five key dimensions: affordability, availability, accessibility, accommodation, and acceptability. We leverage this terminology, and note the interplay between these axes of access and how they must be managed to make a meeting inclusive of the scientific community.

The physical and mental health of in-person attendees and the local community should be prioritized. As an example, the DPS Statement of Care recognizes that the pandemic is not over and prioritizes respect for the health-vulnerable members of the community. However, such masking mandates must be accompanied by strict enforcement to have value.

Hybrid meetings have become increasingly common, necessitated in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, full hybrid access can improve the acceptability for immunocompromised individuals, but the increased costs associated can constitute an affordability barrier. High registration fees have higher impact on underrepresented groups; particularly those at smaller institutions with less access to travel funds. While students may be offered the opportunity to volunteer in return for waived registration fees, this should not be a requirement as this practice exacerbates inequity as time spent volunteering is time not spent learning or networking. Bringing the DPS Underrepresented Minorities travel fund to a sustainable level is one way to support this community.

Accessibility of meeting content can be achieved by granting access to recordings of talks and posters online, but one of the most difficult aspects of creating a successful hybrid meeting is enabling interaction between in-person and virtual participants. Availability requires both that the meeting planners create a space to allow for this, and the community to be willing to take advantage of the technology. It is particularly difficult to replicate the organic environment of being in the poster hall and having a pick-up conversation about a poster when participants are split between the room and online. Posters are a method to get early results and new research out and receive feedback, but creating an innovative and engaging hybrid platform for the poster sessions is a particular challenge.

Accommodations that enable attendees to access all components of a meeting improves the experience for all. This is true regardless of the meeting structure, and is of particular concern for hybrid meetings where many aspects are inherently unequal between virtual and in-person attendees. Incorporating access in the meeting planning process from the start makes the outcome more effective.

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