01 November 2012

Care to sit down?

At big conferences, you can be on your feet all day. There’s a lot of walking from room to room, and poster sessions are generally several hours long. Even the healthiest and heartiest can start to flag a little under those conditions.

Not everyone is in the best of health when a conference happens. (Some time, I’ll tell you about the experience of the student who started to suffer from food poisoning while we were on the plane to a conference.)

Organizers, you might consider having a few light, easily moved chairs for people at your poster sessions. NeuroPolarBear twigged to this at Neuroscience, with one of his recommendations:

More chairs throughout the convention center, including the poster floor, but also the hallways. When you see people sitting on the ground all over the place, it's a sign that there's something missing. That thing is chairs.

But at least don’t do this:

ESA wouldn't give her a chair for her poster session this year (really, wtf)

Yes, having chairs in the poster hall does require enough space and a little planning. But some of your attendees will thank you for it.

1 comment:

MD said...

Here's a suggestion from someone who has to deal with this: chairs in poster sessions work only if they are bar stools or something similar height. I have an impairment that prevents me from standing for long periods of time. But if I try to sit down, one of the two things tend to happen: 1) people don't see me over the crowd and assume that there is no one presenting, so they don't approach or 2) people come over and try to talk, but now they have to bend down low, or otherwise we cannot hear each other in a crowded and noisy hall.

I wish there was a different solution! Inevitably, I have to take a colleague to share the presenter duties, or resign myself to dealing with a lot of pain and probably missing the next conference day because I stood for too long trying to answer all the questions directed at me.

I wish I could find a better way! But really, I have yet to attend a poster presentation that is truly accessible for anyone who has problems preventing them from standing, whether they are presenters or attendees.