The 5th Disability Summit will be held online in April 2023. Stay tuned for details!
The UMD Disability Summit was established in 2016 as a forum for professionals, educators, academics, service providers, allies, and advocates focusing on disability issues to dialogue and collaborate across types of disability and institutions. The goal of the summit is to bring focus to and promote discussion of key current events and research impacting disability in society.
See highlights and what attendees had to say about last year’s conference:
- Advantages of the online format, including the accessibility of online programming for people with disabilities (e.g., “On-line accessibility is much less exhausting than in person”), the ease of navigating to the sessions/presentations, the ability to drop in or leave during sessions without disrupting others, the possibility to work on other tasks while listening to a session, and eliminating the need to travel (e.g., “As a Canadian, it was really great that this was hosted online. I never would have been able to attend this event if it had been in-person”).
- Organization and logistics of the Summit. Attendees deemed the Summit “extremely well organized for an online conference.” They responded positively to the lack of concurrent sessions, which means they could attend all sessions of interest without worrying about scheduling conflicts, as well as to the generous pacing of sessions with “breaks in between talks to move around.” Another respondent notes, “I [...] felt the moderators and speakers created a safe and collaborative environment, and really helped each other out. The conference had a great 'feel' to it, even though it was all virtual.”
- Content and approach of the Summit. Attendees praised a variety of aspects of the conference content, including the “extremely important and often overlooked” topics, “quality of sessions, info, and presenters,” “variety of presentations and perspectives,” discussion of “current solutions to challenges,” “fantastic and valuable information for parents, educators, and people in the field,” and the “good mix of more academic and more community-based presentations.” Related comments:
- “The tone and directness of the conversation. Hearing facts and practical experience from people with disabilities was useful.”
- “I liked the cross-section of speakers, and the fact that the content was so diverse and internationally-focused.”
- Opportunities to learn. “I learned so much” was a common refrain from respondents, and many used the survey to describe the “new knowledge or information” they received from the Summit. A few examples:
- “I learned that it is important to include disabled persons (in a committee) when considering modifying physical structures on campus or signage when considering ADA modifications.”
- “I would enjoy learning more about the Intersectionality of identity.”
- “Interesting new perspectives on varying aspects of disability - I learned some new terminology and new perspectives on old terminology.”
- “I enjoyed hearing other people's stories as those are always a good learning tool for me.”
One respondent described the Summit as “A virtual Master’s program in three days,” which we take as a high compliment to the variety, depth, and applicability of the program.
- Connections with others working in disability and related fields. In addition to learning from the presenters and presentations, some respondents indicated that the Summit was a way to connect with them afterwards, either directly or through social media.
Hope to see you virtually in 2023!