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Jonathan Lazar ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor
of computer and information sciences and director of
the Undergraduate Program in Information Systems
at Towson University, Towson, MD, and recipient of the
SIGCHI 2016 Social Impact Award.
Elizabeth Churchill ( email@example.com) is a director
of user experience at Google, San Francisco, CA, and
Secretary/Treasurer of ACM.
Tovi Grossman ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a
distinguished research scientist in the User Interface
Research Group at Autodesk Research, Toronto, Canada.
Gerrit C. van der Veer ( email@example.com) is an emeritus
professor of multimedia and culture at the Vrije
Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, guest professor
of human-media interaction at Twente University, Twente,
the Netherlands, of human-computer and society at
the Dutch Open University, Heerlen, Netherlands, of
interaction design at the Dalian Maritime University,
Dalian, China, and of animation and multimedia at the
Lushun Academy of Fine Arts, Shenyang, China.
Philippe Palanque ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor
of computer science at Université Paul Sabatier Paul
Sabatier – Toulouse III, France, and head of the
Interactive Critical Systems research group of the IRIT
laboratory, Toulouse, France.
John “Scooter” Morris ( email@example.com) is an
adjunct professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical
Chemistry at the University of California San Francisco
and executive director of the Resource for Biocomputing,
Visualization and Informatics, a U.S. National Institutes of
Health Biomedical Technology Research Resource at the
University of California San Francisco.
Jennifer Mankoff ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor
in the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie
Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.
© 2017 ACM 0001-0782/17/03 $15.00
ences all over the world, including locations that have different accessibility
requirements and accommodations.
Such trade-offs should be acknowledged. When practices differ, it is critical that they be explicitly documented
Allocate budget from SIG funds.
Allocate budget from your SIG funds to
support professional services (such as
video captioning). Be clear about what
work is done by volunteers and what
is outsourced to professional services.
SIGCHI and ACM function primarily
through their volunteers, but SIGCHI
has decided some aspects of accessibility are so important that we must
contract with professionals who can
provide dedicated and reliable focus
to drive our inclusiveness agenda forward. This is not a criticism of the
volunteers; all are committed to these
initiatives, but for many, such plans
are not their primary work focus, so
a reliable, accountable effort is not a
We have three goals in telling the SIGCHI story: underscore the importance
of stakeholder engagement; offer
broad suggestions for how large SIGs
can improve the inclusiveness of physical events and digital content; and
underscore that addressing physical
and digital accessibility is an ongoing
process that takes time, with involvement of many stakeholders. These
stakeholders must work together to
drive the creation of acceptable and accepted guidelines and resources, find
individuals with expertise to work in an
advisory capacity, and find volunteers
to implement effective strategies and
provide feedback regarding the policies and guidelines in action.
Improving the inclusiveness of any
organization is a long-term process. It
involves planning, structure, and information sharing. It involves checklists
and inspections. It involves a commitment to programmatically raising
awareness through communication
and action. But where does inclusiveness start? One possibility is with
members of the specific community
raising awareness about barriers. But
we advocate a more proactive stance.
A professional community that has not
been inclusive of people with disabili-
ties is not likely to have members with
disabilities who will raise awareness
of what is needed. Inclusiveness must
start with proactive outreach to in-
crease inclusiveness so change can be
driven from within the organization. A
reactive stance through which accessi-
bility issues are dealt with as (and only
if) they occur is not programmatic and
will not be as effective.
The impact of greater accessibility can be profound. The more accessible an organization becomes, the
more people will feel comfortable giving feedback and working actively toward inclusive solutions that can lead
to more members. As Kirkham7 said
about the current situation, “In practice significantly more research is being done about people with disabilities
than by people with disabilities within
SIGCHI.” SIGCHI’s hope is that SIGCHI will be a community that is perceived as welcoming for all researchers
and practitioners with disabilities.
In addition, actions on the part of
any organization, including a SIG community, have the ability to influence
outside actors. Large SIGs, when they
educate others about digital and physical accessibility, can have significant
influence on the conference locations
they rent and the universities and companies that employ their members.
ACM has a leading role to play by
ensuring all SIGs strive to be inclusive
and by thus being a role model for
other professional associations. The
best way to handle such responsibility would ultimately be to ensure there
are professional staff supporting and
centralizing the most vital accessibility needs and accessibility is included
in contractual relationships (such as
with organizations that produce ACM’s
website and publications and contract
The authors would like to acknowledge
the advice provided by Sheryl Burgst-haler, Richard Ladner, Clayton Lewis,
Jennifer Rode, Terry Thompson, Shari
Trewin, and Jeff Bigham to the SIGCHI
Executive Committee and CHI 2014
and CHI 2015 Program Committees.
1. AccessComputing: The Alliance for Access to
Computing Careers; http://www.washington.edu/
Watch the authors discuss
their work in this exclusive