Our approach to building safe, productive, and inclusive spaces at RightsCon 2022
The 11th edition of RightsCon is in two weeks (June 6-10, 2022) and we’re taking a moment to provide an update and reminder of the core policies, principles, and processes that help keep the summit a safe, productive, and inclusive space.
Registered participants can find information about safety and security directly on the RightsCon platform when it opens on Monday, May 23, including on ways to report incidents, details about our approach, and our full policies.
As we mark our third year of convening virtually our approach to safety and security follows the same framework and design built to facilitate the previous online Summits. Our Security Working Group (SWG), an internal committee composed of our RightsCon, SecOps, and Code of Conduct leadership, has reviewed, tested, and adapted our internal security and safety processes to ensure we remain positioned to best understand risks posed to the RightsCon community and respond effectively to issues should they arise.
In preparation for 2022, we’ve continued to deepen and examine our internal roles, workflows, and processes. As with previous years, this includes:
- Training technical moderators to support the successful delivery of every single session;
- Staffing a 24/7 help desk and a number of additional operations and production team members;
- Providing Code of Conduct training to moderators (conducted by Kendra Albert) and all event staff so that they can provide quick First Response to incidents to prevent further harm;
- Developing detailed session organizer and participant guides to support strong sessions and productive conversations;
- Held discussions around effective participant guidelines to maintain positive engagement across the community;
- Reviewing of our reporting, escalation, and response framework and plans;
- Undertaking risk assessments, analysis, and scenario planning.
Informing your participation
RightsCon is online, it’s open to the public, and free registration is available. It is, and always has been, a multi-stakeholder space and environment and an opportunity to bring diverse voices and opinions into one space.
Diversity is central to the success of RightsCon and the strength of our community. While we’ve developed safety and security measures to protect people from harm, we also want to acknowledge that there may be instances during the week when you encounter individuals or organizations who have a different approach, background, or hold different opinions than yourself or other members of your community.
We’re confident in our community’s ability to engage respectfully in thoughtful and complex dialogue on sensitive topics, but we also recognize they are taking place under moments of stress and times of crisis. No participant, speaker, facilitator, or organizer should use disagreement as a defence for discrimination, violence, or abuse or pressure another participant to disclose personal identities and experiences. Please familiarize yourself with our Code of Conduct and reach out to us if you are concerned with how a situation is escalating.
Further, while we take great care to ensure every participant enjoys a safe, enriching experience, we also rely on each participant taking stock of their own safety and security, and implementing measures appropriate to their own circumstances. As you prepare for RightsCon, we encourage you to take some time to assess your digital hygiene and digital security best practices when working and interacting in online spaces.
When participating in RightsCon, we encourage you to:
- Be mindful of the public nature of certain spaces and manage the information you share accordingly (any information you share may be shared outside of those public spaces);
- Be thoughtful regarding the information you share or receive (including URLs and attachments) relative to your ability to verify a fellow participant’s identity;
- Where you have the need to discuss highly sensitive topics, consider the most appropriate platform or channel for such exchanges (we’ve designed private meetings for this purpose).
Beyond safety and security: inclusion and accessibility
Inclusion and accessibility are integral areas of focus at RightsCon. Not only does this mean making space for people whose voices have been systematically excluded from global convening spaces but also ensuring that these spaces are accessible and welcoming.
What do we mean when we say inclusion and accessibility? While we often hear these concepts used loosely or interchangeably, we want to be intentional in our wording and transparent in our efforts. When we talk about inclusion, we’re referring to our commitment to ensure people from diverse backgrounds can actively participate, contribute to discussions, and have equitable opportunities in the RightsCon community. Increasing accessibility refers to designing our online spaces centered around the various needs, abilities, and priorities of participants and providing corresponding avenues for engagement during the summit.
Last year, we shared our approach and efforts to increase inclusion and accessibility across every aspect of our summit through this blog post. Ensuring that RightsCon is an inclusive and accessible space for our diverse and growing community is continuous work, and we have built on this work by:
- Reflecting on, evaluating and adapting our policies and practices;
- Hosting 44 multilingual sessions (the most we’ve ever hosted!);
- Creating and testing a speaker honorarium policy;
- Supporting low-bandwidth session participation options;
- Facilitating a chat function for non-audio interaction between participants;
- Implementing platform-wide image descriptions for screen reader accessibility;
- Ensuring interactive elements on the platform are keyboard navigable;
- Enabling closed captions by default in Workshops and Community Labs;
- Supporting subtitles and / or closed caption for high production and select featured programming.
Beyond feature improvements, it’s important to us that accessibility is on the agenda. Participants can view all sessions related to accessibility through the disability rights filter on the program and are invited to join us and global disability justice activists for a fireside chat focused on dismantling ableism within technology ecosystems.
These efforts are only a starting point and part of our long-term strategy to broaden accessibility at RightsCon. It’s important for our work to be informed by the community it serves and we welcome your feedback and suggestions on how we can improve our efforts. You can get in touch with us at [email protected].
Reporting and responding
During RightsCon, participants will be able to reach out to our response team with any questions or to report an incident. To create a safe and supportive environment that remains productive there might be some instances where our team needs to respond with a quick decision (“First Response”) to ensure the safety of the community, prevent further harm, and stabilize the situation. Our response team will then work to assess the situation carefully and decide on the final response and remedy, with the best interests of our community, and those most at risk, in mind.
In building an adaptive reporting and response process, we are guided by the following objectives:
- Maintaining a safe environment where participants can engage freely without fear of intimidation, harassment or violence, or threat or reprisal;
- Fostering a space that supports strong dialogue and productive conversation;
- Developing strong response mechanisms designed to take quick action to reduce the amount of harm;
- Operating with confidentiality, recusal, and documentation security as top priority;
- Clearly and transparently communicating our policies and processes;
- Continuously listening and learning about how we can best support and serve the community.
Below are the ways you can get in contact with us during the Summit:
- RightsCon Help Desk: All technical issues or platform questions can be directed to our help desk 24/7 during the summit via a chat function in the platform or by email at [email protected].
- Code of Conduct: All Code of Conduct questions or incidents can be reported 24/7 during the summit via email at [email protected].
- SecOps Team: If you have any other concerns related to your attendance that are not covered above, you can reach out to us 24/7 during the summit via email at [email protected].