Guidelines for ISB conference organizers for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

  • Venue: Ensure the venue is accessible in a variety of ways. Recommendations:
    • Childcare considerations: More conferences are offering childcare options at conferences, either on or off site. Consider providing a private space where women can nurse or pump.
    • The venue should meet accessibility requirements.
      • Conference organisers should canvas for requirements before the conference (e.g., question on registration form)
    • Detailed information should be provided on the venue area.
      • Add information for local area, bus terminals, directions, approved taxis, shared journeys, etc.
      • Opportunities/networking for informal coordinated travel and social outings should be provided (e.g., sign-up sheet at the registration area, internet group).
    • From [2]: (Nice to have) provide a darkened quiet room for people to visit if the conference grew too intense. It could be equipped with blankets, cushions, eye masks and ear plugs.
  • Registration: We recommend that the minimal information be included in the registration form:
    • gender (male, female, prefer not to say, prefer to self-describe) and National or ethnic group (asian, black, white, prefer not to say, prefer to self describe as…) (not compulsory)
      • This could be a separate form not associated with the registration form
    • Preferred pronoun option – could be free text and make clear that this will be printed on the badge
  • Badges: See this article for recommendations on badges
  • Photography/Video: Not all participants wish to be photographed or recorded on video.
    • Recommendation: Ask participants to sign an acceptance note if they are happy to be photographed or recorded.
    • Consent is required for photographs (according to GDPR) and this should be through a written consent form. Perimeter notices should also be clearly visible – including a sign outside plenary rooms. While every effort will be made for there to not be identifying markers for those who do not wish to be singled out in conference materials, their image may be captured in general plenary shots. According to GDPR this applies only to work-related events, not social events, even if they take place at a conference venue.
    • Consider having a photography free area/time
  • Speakers: Attempt to include talks from speakers from a diversity of backgrounds including an equal distribution of gender, geographic location, affiliations (ie academia, industry, government, etc.), career level (junior vs senior biocurators), and varied topics. Conference organizers may want to consider prioritizing talks for junior curators or those who are new to biocuration. An example rubric that was used for planning the 2020 program is available here.
  • Consider varying formats for talks. From [1], “The default format is often the keynote lecture in a large lecture theatre, with the aim of presenting cutting edge work. Recognising that conferences serve other important purposes – fostering collaborations, building skills and raising profiles– can justify the adoption of other types of formats that are more conducive to sharing knowledge, generating new ideas and building partnerships.” 
  • Post-talk Questions: Ensure the Q&A sessions are accessible, respectful and not intimidating. Recommendations: 
    • ask audience members to write down questions on notecards, and the chair can ask the questions
    • Encourage audience members to ask questions on Twitter or a dedicated app such as Slido (
  • Presentations
    • From [2]: Consider asking presenters to make presentations available in several ways:
      • Include text scripts 
      • Provide large-print copies
      • Publishing presentations online
    • Audio description of the visual elements in slide presentations widens access
    •  Use of high color contrasts
    • Use large font sizes 
    • Use simple, sans-serif fonts
  • Posters
    • Promote the alternate poster format, with the very large take away message, see article.
  • Food
    • Provide lunch and snack choices suitable for those with diabetes, coeliac disease, allergies, etc.
  • Environmental considerations. Recommendations:
    • Vegetarian food options by default
    • Encourage taxi sharing and walking
    • Discourage plastic usage
    • Discourage air-con use
    • Make conference materials available digitally only to avoid needless printing (provide open formats, e.g. PDF, and a printed option for attendees who need it)
    • Remote participation to encourage diversity and engagement and reduce carbon footprint (will increase cost of conference but allow others to participate even if they can’t afford to attend the conference)
    • Leftovers donated to shelters





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