Digital Access Facilitation Team

Bright red background with the acronym DAFT in bold white lettersAt past meetings of the Society for Disability Studies, certain individuals have taken it upon themselves to live-tweet various portions of the conference. While such live-tweeting was valuable, it was ultimately quite limited and completely dependent on the efforts of a few individuals. Building on those past efforts, this year the Student Caucus will be coordinating a group we are calling the Digital Access Facilitation Team (DAFT), who will be responsible for consistently and comprehensively live-tweeting the entire conference as a way of collaboratively increasing the accessibility of our meeting. As a recognition of the labor  necessary to produce such access, all members of the DAFT will be compensated via 50% off the Early Bird registration fee for Lower Income/Student Members of SDS.

In terms of access, live-tweeting will allow us to translate the key points and trajectories of presentations and conversations during conference sessions into a medium that will allow for new and more inclusive forms of engagement. That is, while in the past we have largely focused on how to make our conferences accessible by getting more folks in the room (making sure our spaces our physically accessible) and making sure those in the room have access to the presentations being made (via CART, ASL translation, etc.), with the use of twitter we can now make our conference more accessible via the integration of what Margaret Price has called “telepresence.” That means, for example, that those who might need to take a break during the day no longer need to miss a session that they might otherwise like to attend; now they can now be “telepresent” in that session by following the twitter-feed, whether live or at a later time, and if following live, can even pose questions via twitter during the session’s Q & A session. Importantly, the Twitter “backchannel”–which comprises the comments on the presentations being live-tweeted–will also present radical new possibilities for access by facilitating the participation of previously marginalized groups in the conference’s critical dialogues—including nonverbal attendees and those unable to be physically present—as well as providing an easily accessible medium for continuing such dialogues after the conference.

Moreover, after the conference concludes, the Twitter conversations from the conference dates will be archived and organized, thus allowing for ongoing access to them. In addition to the enormous possibilities for accessibility that the Student Caucus believes this program will open for SDS, it is our hope that this program might serve as a model and inspiration for other organizations and conferences–many of whom have already begun adopting live-tweeting though not for accessibility purposes–to formalize their use of Twitter as a means of making their meetings more inclusive and accessible for all participants.

Anyone will be able to follow these tweets as well as contribute to the discussion on Twitter themselves by using both the conference-wide hashtag #2015SDS as well as the hashtag for the specific panel/meeting under discussion. Hashtags for individual panels and meetings will take the following form: for a panel designated on the schedule in the first session as 1.1 the hashtag would be #s11, while for a meeting designated on the schedule as M1.2 the hashtag would be #m12.

In the following google document you can find a full schedule for the conference with all session/meeting hashtags specified as well as eventually the listing of which members of the Digitial Access Facilitation Team will be live-tweeting each session:

Additionally, the following is a public list of the members of the Digital Access Facilitation Team which you might subscribe to:


For more information about Twitter and the practice of live-tweeting more generally, which we are building on, please take a look  at some of these excellent resources:

Hybrid Pedagogy: The Rules of Twitter

GradHacker: 10 Tips for Tweeting at Conferences

MLA Commons: A Quick Guide to Using Twitter at the MLA Conference