“I felt as though AMC transported us into a freedom-dream space, where organizers, presenters and participants all worked together to practice a way of being that enables our full humanity to shine. I’m so grateful for this community.”Beatrice, Pittsburgh
“What I also think is SO amazing is that the conference being digital opened it up to so many folx across the world who normally would not have been able to attend – Eg. the Design justice Network which I co-host and support, had so many international members be able to attend, learn new tools and resources, and are STILL talking about it today!”Victoria, Toronto
Our team thanks you for sharing your responses to the AMC2020 Feedback Survey. You traveled this very uncertain road with us, offered us grace and love during technical and accessibility challenges, and opened portals for ground-shifting conversations.
This year’s AMC was like no other; We traded well-worn challenges like how to get people to the conference from the airport for brand-new challenges like how to prevent zoom-bombing and protect participant data. And how do we continue to organize when our communities are in the throes of multiple pandemics or how do we still cultivate magic, joy, and critical connections through it all?
After combing through 177 survey responses and hosting a series of debriefing conversations with AMC staff, coordinators, and community partners, we’ve identified important lessons and takeaways that will help us shape AMC2022.
What We Learned
AMC needs to deepen our commitment to accessibility
While this was the most accessible the AMC has ever been, we need to do more to expand and center access. In our quick shift from an in-person conference to one online, we created more access for people who previously could not engage the conference but we also failed to deliver on some basic needs. As this is not the first time access issues have been vocalized at the AMC, we are deeply sorry that it has made members of our community question our commitment to disability justice, especially given our expressed commitments to disability justice and its transformative roots in AMC history.
We know a good apology is best received when accompanied by restitution and changed behavior, and we are grateful to the disability justice community for holding us accountable. Our desire to deliver the access that our community needs means that we are recommitting to disability justice in the following ways:
- Increase our capacity to provide language interpretation support for Spanish and ASL conference programming
- Closed captioning for all virtual sessions and AMC@NIGHT programming
- Explore and implement solutions for ensuring future AMC’s release accessible resources such as, transcripts and recordings, at least 40 days post-conference.
Looking ahead to AMC2022, we plan to:
- Create a Disability Justice Council to advise the AMC on the best solutions for creating access at the conference, starting with the recommendations put forth in the 2019 AMC Disability Justice Chrysalis Report.
- Budget to ensure that every virtual and live-streamed session has closed captioning.
- Include ASL interpreters and Spanish interpreters for all AMC@Night programming and as many interactive sessions as financially possible.
- Build our staff knowledge and practice of Disability Justice, starting with Stacey Park Milbern’s Co-organized Crip Camp Series.
We welcome additional resources for Disability Justice training. If you have questions or suggestions, please email email@example.com.
AMC should address session capacity
Some survey respondents expressed confusion about why some sessions had limited capacities, given the shift to an online format.
The AMC faces the challenge of making the conference accessible to more and more people each year, while also creating an overall conference experience that centers intimacy, care, disability justice, and safety. All of this requires tremendous labor on the part of our staff, whose well-being is also a high priority for the AMC. We are holding the tension of all these priorities, knowing that they are sometimes at odds with each other.
We attempted to strike a balance this year by producing approximately 100 smaller, intimate Zoom sessions, in which presenters set capacity at the number they felt comfortable with, and 12 open sessions, with unlimited capacities. As we move toward future AMC’s we will continue to lean on the creativity of our brilliant network to explore ways of navigating these contradictions and finding new solutions.
Some specific things we will be working towards regarding session capacity at future AMCs are:
- More communication about when attendees need to sign up for sessions and transparency around why sessions are capped.
- A way to ensure QTBIPOC participants are prioritized and have dedicated space to attend sessions.
- A platform that allows for greater flexibility and ease around selecting sessions and a more streamlined process regarding waitlisting, virtual session links, and ability to easily navigate changing time zones.
- Send AMCers a “Welcome to the AMC Guide” at least two weeks before the conference to ensure participants have useful resources on what to expect in their conference experience; including how to sign-up for sessions.
- Develop solutions that ensure QTBIPoC, people with disabilities, and other marginalized identities receive priority placement in sessions.
AMC should continue these aspects of the conference
“Unlike most online spaces, this one felt engaging, intentional, and warm throughout the entirety of the conference. It felt like the organizers truly cared about holding each and every audience member who was participating and that’s definitely special to AMC.”Laurel, Berkeley
- Virtual Participation: According to the feedback, AMCers enjoyed virtual programming and want us to keep it for future conferences, as it creates a more accessible and translocal AMC experience. There was special interest in attending a hybrid AMC, offering a mix of online only content, in-person gatherings, and ensuring plenaries and ceremonies are live streamed.
- Prioritizing Care: Survey respondents appreciated the intentionality and care that staff, volunteers and presenters brought to organizing the conference, and want us to continue prioritizing a politic of care, including disability justice, affinity group-only spaces, partnering with Detroit Safety Team, having cross-generational support systems, and more.
Your feedback has illuminated new spaces for us to grow and old places for us to deepen our commitments as we imagine how to make the conference more accessible and engaging. Thank you for joining us on this transformative journey, and for being a beloved member of our AMC community.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share more about your experience.
Stay tuned for updates on AMC2022!