Gallaudet University has been awarded a one-year grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support full access at an upcoming international conference. The project title is “Conference: Creating an accessible conference to support inclusive research in Mathematical Cognition and Learning.” Dr. Ilaria Berteletti of the Ph.D. Program in Educational Neuroscience Program is principal investigator, and Dr. Rachel Pizzie, also of the PEN program, is co-principal investigator.

This $99,979 NSF grant (NSF Award number: 2348499) will support accessibility during the Mathematical Cognition and Learning Society (MCLS) annual conference this summer. “The MCLS annual conference aims to showcase a variety of steps that can help create a more inclusive environment,” says Berteletti, who serves as Secretary of MCLS. Greater inclusivity has been a goal of MCLS since one of Berteletti’s students attended a previous conference. This made the group’s leadership more aware of accessibility issues. 

Smiling woman with long dark hair
Dr. Ilaria Berteletti serves as Secretary of the Mathematical Cognition and Learning Society. When her student Sarah Kimbley (pictured at top) attended a recent MCLS conference, the group’s leadership became more aware of accessibility issues.

“From there, this discussion of being welcoming as a society grew,” she says. The MCLS governing board wants to remove barriers so that it is welcoming to anyone working on related research in psychology, neuroscience, education, linguistics, and other fields from anywhere around the world.

The conference will be held June 26-28. The opening reception will be in the National Deaf Life Museum; symposia in the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center and Andrew J. Foster Auditorium; and poster sessions in the James L. Sorenson Language and Communication Center.

Berteletti says that full access will be apparent upon arrival and throughout the conference, “Registration tables will be staffed by both Deaf and hearing students, so all language needs are accommodated,” Berteletti says. All conference events, including social functions, will be interpreted. Posters and slides will be made available ahead of time for low-vision attendees to have materials on personal devices during the presentations. Food menus will include options for people with dietary restrictions. And for anyone who needs a break, there will be a low-stimulation room as well as a family room. 

Smiling woman with brown hair tilts her head slightly
Dr. Rachel Pizzie is co-principal investigator on the project that won the National Science Foundation grant.

Even the conference schedule is part of this plan, explains Berteletti, who says MCLS has strived to make the presentation topics as diverse as possible, ensuring that no area of research feels undervalued or pushed aside. Two sessions will cover topics related to sign language and research with Deaf participants. There will be two panels devoted specifically to funding for diversity and accessibility. These sessions, featuring representatives from NSF, the National Institutes of Health, the Institute of Education Sciences, the American Educational Research Association, the National Academy of Education, and other groups, will give researchers greater exposure to what kind of resources are available to them. 

“We want to show what access looks like. We will share our experience with other societies so they know what to anticipate and how to be proactive,” Berteletti says.

In addition to supporting access, the grant will cover a limited number of conference fees for Deaf faculty and students. More information is available at this Google link.

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