Unofficial Oral Proposal Guide

Presentation Day Equity Considerations

A dress rehearsal for presentation day can show you potential barriers, though ideally you should run through presentation day in your head weeks before the event to think through any hiccups.  For the equity lens, the mock event is your last chance to discover something a new barrier before the event “goes live.”


When you first begin to structure the agenda for the event, contemplate as many barriers as possible with these questions and consider possible improvements to the event’s structure:


  • Can the event be held virtually or as a physical/virtual hybrid to allow for maximum participation in the event a physical impediment or a tight budget precludes air travel to the event?  Participants who are financially constrained are probably not going to want to advertise their lack of spare cash, so they may not be forthcoming with you about the reason they prefer to present virtually.


  • Does the physical facility where the event will be held have barriers?  Are there handicapped parking spaces?  Are there enough handicapped parking spaces?   Is the meeting on the ground floor?   If not, does the facility have elevators? Does the facility have wheelchair ramps to get into the first floor?  Will participants have to climb or descend stairs?


  • Does the meeting require “no electronics”?   How do you define “no electronics”?   What medical devices and tools are not allowed?   (Keep in mind that these medical devices may be the difference in life or death. Some do transmit medical information to a phone app when linked again or to another device, but they don’t record  audio.)  A participant probably doesn’t need a pedometer to record their number of steps or fat grams while in the facility, but they may need to record and occasionally check their blood glucose during their time in the facility to know how to adjust insulin dosage.


  • Will the presenter need to be escorted to a restroom?   Will the presenter have ample chairs or be expected to stand for a presentation?  Will the facility have ample food selections if the attendees are expected to not leave the facility for a meal?  Hint:  “ample food selections” should include non-junk food choices, non-pizza, non-fried foods, water, and non-donuts.  Pizza and soft drinks are okay to have available, but an option for sandwiches or a green salad with protein will answer most restricted diets with a little forethought.


  • In the event of a pandemic, does the facility allow enough room for social distancing? Will masks be required?   Remember that some participants may have underlying illnesses that are invisible to you or they may live with someone who is immunocompromised, such a a cancer or lupus patient. If a health threat or anything the participant might consider a health threat is suspected, make sure the participants are aware in advance of making travel plans.


  • Will participants be able to see and hear during the presentation?   Will they be expected to read a monitor or presentation screen from a distance?  The same applies to reading a computer screen during a virtual presentation. Will they be expected to hear questions asked by a moderator, evaluation team, or facilitator?  Will they have adequate time to read a scenario on a screen or does it need to be read to them?


  • Will a presenter with a speech impediment have enough time to deliver the same amount of information in a time block?


  • Will the presenter be expected to respond to a “real-time” task given to them during their presentation to show their ability to create a quick solution and respond on time?  Can a graphic or written version of the scenario they are expected to respond to be provided at the time of the question?   Not everyone can visualize information they’re given verbally, an inability known as aphantasia, but you can help to accommodate this barrier for all participants.


If you have a good working relationship with colleagues who deal with ableist barriers daily, then you might recruit them to review your plan for the event, especially if they work at or near the facility.  You could also recruit them to participate in the mock run for the event.  If you have a diversity/inclusion director in your organization, then they might have resources to help you look at your plan through the equity lens.


Will thinking ahead to how to handle physical and socio-economic barriers create more work for you?  It may, if you’ve not been aware of potential barriers until now.  However, your accommodation and planning is insignificant compared to their having to live with these barriers daily.  Your effort is small compared to theirs, and you can help bring new ideas and solutions to the Government by accommodating them and treating them equitably.


© 2020 The MITRE Corporation, updated 2021. All Rights Reserved.  The content provided in "The Unofficial Proposal Guide" does not reflect MITRE's opinions.


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