Accessibility Services at General Assembly

The General Assembly Accessibilities Services Team works with the General Assembly (GA) Planning Committee, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) administration, and GA attendees to coordinate services and accommodations for members of the GA Community, and to seek out opportunities to raise awareness around inclusion and accessibility.

Every effort will be made to provide you with accommodations or assistive equipment to enable or enhance your GA experience. Whether you're attending in person or virtually, an Accessibility Services Coordinator will be available before and during GA to provide information and coordinate assistance to individuals with accessibility needs.

In developing events for GA, the Planning Committee holds as an ideal the concept of Universal Design, seeking to make GA events usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.

We also recognize that some General Assembly participants may have disabilities that are not apparent. Such “hidden” disabilities include: traumatic brain injury, some effects of chemo therapy, heart ailments, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, mental health conditions, and others.

Accessibility Services Available

Offered at GA without the need to make a separate request:

  • Realtime CART (Open Captioning) at all main stage events in the General Session hall (for both in-person and virtual attendees).
    • While live, professional captioning is more accurate than auto-generated captioning, there is always human error. Live captions will not be 100% accurate. We work together with the captionwriter in advance to prepare for each event, striving to provide the best quality captions possible.
  • Live ASL interpretation at all main stage events in the General Session hall (for both in-person and virtual attendees)
  • Captioning of pre-recorded content – All content in the on-demand library will be captioned.
    • The first pass at captions are auto-generated. These captions are next edited and recaptioned by a team of volunteers using transcripts provided by those who produced the content. Finally, the edited captions are embedded into the video and it’s uploaded to the on-demand library.
  • Captioning of live-streamed content (not on the main stage) – All content being livestreamed will be captioned.
    • When an event outside the main stage such as a workshop is being livestreamed, auto-generated captions are seen via the livestream feed. Unfortunately, auto-generated captions are not always accurate. We do not use or save the auto-generated captions. Before the recording is uploaded to the on-demand library, the auto-generated captions are edited and recaptioned by a team of volunteers.
  • Written materials, including the Program Book and submitted workshop handouts, are available in advance of GA in digital form and are accessible to screen readers.
  • Use of plain language whenever possible.
  • To be respectful of those with allergies and environmental sensitivities, we askthat in-person attendees please refrain from wearing strong fragrances.
  • Presenters are provided with a checklist and resources requesting that they:
    • Submit materials in advance so that they can be made available in an accessible format
    • Verbally describe visual materials (e.g., slides, charts, lists of names). If a video appears in a presentation without any verbal narration (for example, a video montage set to music) the transcript of any text on screen as well as a written description of the visuals will be available in advance.
    • Provide a transcript of pre-recorded videos
    • Avoid using small print on presentations that can’t be seen from a distance
    • Ensure speakers use a microphone and repeat questions posed by the audience before responding
    • Activate captions on any videos used in their presentation
    • Enable captions in Zoom
    • If conducting breakout sessions in Zoom, keep the main room (the only room with captioning capability) as a breakout room
    • Encourage breaks
    • Make power point presentations accessible
    • Be mindful of their speed while speaking
    • Avoid speaking over background music
    • Include a brief visual description of themselves as part of their introduction
  • Page magnifiers are available from the Accessibility Services Team
  • Two Mamava nursing suites are available in the Oregon Convention Center.

Accessibility Services Available by Request

Please submit an Accessibility Services Request Form by April 30 so that arrangements can be made. The request form will be available in early 2022.

Equipment/Services include, but are not limited to:

  • Electric Scooter
  • Electric Wheelchair
  • Manual Wheelchair
  • Walker
  • Cane
  • Mobility orientation
  • Assistive Listening Devices
  • Text file of GA program for screen reader
  • PockeTalker

To request an accommodation not listed, please provide more information on the Accessibility Services Request Form. If it appears we will be unable to meet a specific request, we will follow up with the individual who made the request to determine whether an alternative arrangement can be made.

Persons requesting accessibility rental equipment will be asked to contribute an amount up to the actual cost.

Even though they may not appear disabled, some people are more affected by fatigue than others. General Assembly can be a fatiguing experience for anyone. Even if you are someone who doesn't usually use mobility or other assistive equipment, you might really be helped by the available services.

Services Not Available at This Time

  • Personal Care Assistance (PCA) Services
  • Printed materials.
    • To reduce our environmental impact, there will not be printed copies of the program book, workshops materials, etc. Submitted written materials will be available in advance in digital form (screen reader accessible) through the GA app. To request written materials in braille or other accessible alternative forms, please submit the Accessibility Services Request form.
  • Audio Description
    • Audio Description is not yet provided. We are taking the following steps toward providing Audio Description: Presenters are encouraged to include a brief visual description of themselves as part of their introduction. We request and instruct presenters to verbally describe visual materials. If a video appears in a presentation without any verbal narration (for example, a video montage set to music) the transcript of any text on screen as well as a written description of the visuals will be available in advance.
  • ASL interpretation or live CART (captioning) in rooms other than the General Session hall
    • Solutions for captioning for in-person workshop participants:
      There are several high-quality speech-to-text captioning apps for use on personal digital devices (iOS and Android). Recommended apps available on the App Store and Google Play include Ava, Otter, Live Transcribe, and Live Caption.
      Speech-to-Text technologies to listen to an audio signal in real time and generate captions. Be wary - automated captions are notorious for delivering run-on sentences sometimes studded with nonsensical or obscene phrases. Due to their high error rate, we acknowledge that automated cations are not truly equitable for live access. But as of now, because we aren’t able to offer CART in rooms except the General Session hall, they are our best solution.
    • Solutions for virtual workshops and breakouts:
      Workshops held in Zoom use the auto-generated captions in the main Zoom room. If the workshop goes into breakout rooms, the main room will be the breakout room with captioning. Workshop leaders will ask you to raise your virtual hand if you’d like to stay in the captioned breakout room. If you end up in an uncaptioned breakout room, leave that room to return to the main room where the captioning functions to join that breakout group.
      As previously noted, auto-generated captions are not always accurate. After the workshop, before it is uploaded to the on-demand library, the auto-generated captions are edited by a volunteer to correct errors.

Requesting Accessible Housing

Those in need of accessible hotel accommodations will be making their reservation using the same housing reservations system as all other GA attendees. It is a first come, first served model. Please know that GA staff will be monitoring all reservations made with ADA requests to make sure that as many people as possible get a hotel room that is appropriate to their level of need. We have been able to accommodate most, if not all requests in the past few years.

Instructions for Reserving an ADA Room

  1. Go to the online housing reservation form. You will see a section to fill out called “Please select your guest type”
  2. Select “Attendee ADA Accessible” from the drop down menu. Fill out the rest of the information, check-in, check-out, etc. Click on “Find” to continue.
  3. The online system will list the available hotels. Select which hotel you want, and then appropriate room type, depending on whether you need a king, double/double, a tub or a roll-in shower, etc.
  4. Confirm your room type and date nights and then click on “NEXT”.
  5. Be sure to list any additional required assistive features such as grab bars or a raised toilet seat in the “Additional Requests” section after you enter your personal information. “Proceed to Payment details” by clicking on “NEXT”.

Please request what you require. Keep in mind that there are limited resources so requesting at your level of need and not beyond will allow more people to participate in General Assembly.

For more information contact gahousing@uua.org

Registration for Personal Aides

Personal aides who are attending solely to facilitate the attendance of another may register at a special $35 full-conference rate. This personal attendant registration rate is only for those whose presence is required to assist a GA attendee with disabilities or limitations that would preclude them from attending without assistance. Contact generalassembly@uua.org to arrange registration for a personal aide.

Inclusive Design Benefits Everyone

Many accessibility considerations, such as good lighting and sound, wide walkways, captioning, ample time for breaks, etc., can benefit everyone, not only those with disabilities. Considering accessibility positively affects the experience of all participants by creating a more inclusive event.

Persons with accommodation needs will find information about various kinds of assistance and accessibility at the Accessibility Table in the Convention Center. Read more about the Oregon Convention Center and Portland local accessibility information.

Two women on accessibility scooters, pictured from behind, are pulled up close together and talking in a hallway.

Accessibility scooters are available for rent during General Assembly, but you must reserve in advance.

An accessibilities services volunteer directs a General Assembly attendee and their guide dog.

Kim Hampton of the Accessibility Services team offers directions to an attendee.

Several GA attendees embrace after a proposed change is voted for. Some of the attendees are using mobility scooters.

Celebration following the passage of the name change to the "Side With Love" campaign in 2017.