I’ve written about the value of quiet rooms before, and it was good to have one at AlterConf. Personally I found the venue (the King offices) to be a bit loud and crowded at times, and having a space to relax and recharge was essential.
I wrote about live captioning at PyCon UK, and I was unsurprised to see it again at AlterConf. What was more impressive was that our STTR was nowhere near the conference — in fact, they had an audio feed over Skype and were transcribing everything from New York. Location is no bar to having captions!
Alongside the live captioning, we had a pair of BSL interpreters. Both excellent provisions for attendees who are hard of hearing, or really anyone who just drifts off for a moment.
I really like the ticket pricing page. A single ticket is pretty affordable – £25 for the day, far cheaper than most other tech conferences. This opens the conference to a much wider pool of people. But it goes further: when you buy a ticket, you can pay on a sliding scale, purchasing extra tickets for other people. An easy way to contribute to the financial aid program. It’s a really nice touch.
None of these ideas are unique to AlterConf – I think I’ve seen all of them at at least one other conference. But most conferences don’t have all of them, and I think it’s a shame – I’d love to see all of these more widely available. In the tech industry, conferences are a key venue for networking and learning, and making them more accessible can only be a good thing.
AlterConf isn’t perfect – as I said above, I found the venue quite noisy and crowded (both visually and aurally), and it wasn’t the easiest place to find – but it sets a high bar. If you help to organise a conference (tech or otherwise), I’d really encourage considering some of these ideas.