The AVA takes steps to improve inclusivity and accessibility in veterinary education

15 Jun 2023


Closed Captioning at conferences  

During this year’s AVA Annual Conference, we successfully trialled the use of Closed Captioning in PowerPoint presentations.  

Dr Alex Harrison is a profoundly deaf veterinarian and disability advocate who attended the conference in Adelaide. He provided very positive feedback about the new initiative.  

"The trial of closed captioning in the lectures and panel discussions was hugely beneficial for me and for the first time in 23 years, I felt included in a major veterinary conference,” Alex said.  

“I have to thank Bronwyn Orr, David Andrews and Meredith Flash for being so willing to try something new.  It allowed me to really absorb all that AVA had to offer – and I had many other delegates say that they found it helpful too. Some had mild hearing loss, some had auditory processing disorder, some were neurodivergent, others simply struggled with accents, or learn better by reading than by listening”. 

“The use of closed captioning really highlighted the importance of recognising that traditional methods of content delivery do not suit everyone. The AVA will make itself a conference of choice to a section of the veterinary community by making itself more accessible for more people," Alex added.  

The AVA is keen to extend the use of Closed Captioning. Special Interest Groups will be asked to consider using them at their conferences, after considering the capacity of the venue to provide the technology and the cost associated with it.  

Image: closed captioning in action during a speech at the 2023 AVA annual Conference. Pictured onstage is immediate past president, Dr Bronwyn Orr


Closed Captioning in videos and webinars 

Currently for Closed Captioning to appear in videos they need to be switched on at the time of recording in either PowerPoint or Zoom, and the AVA will be starting to use this functionality during future webinars. However, following the success of their use at the conference, over the coming weeks we will be applying Closed Captioning retrospectively to a number of existing videos, including AVA’s growing suite of on demand webinars for 2023. Viewers will have the option to turn captions on by clicking the CC button on the video player and selecting English.

Image: Anna Dawson, member of the AVA's THRIVE Veterinary Wellness Steering Group, presenting a CC-enabled on demand webinar


Including pronouns on delegate name badges 

Delegates at this year’s Australian Small Animal Veterinarians (ASAV) Conference in August will have the option to display their pronouns on their name badges.  

Trans woman and President of Australian Rainbow Veterinarians and Allies, Kate Toyer BVSc MANZCVS, applauded the move saying, "This is a significant step towards inclusion of trans and gender diverse people in the veterinary sector as it encourages everyone to express their identities freely." 

Following the ASAV event in August, Special Interest Group committees will have the option to include pronouns on name badges for their conferences.  

The AVA recognises the need to be more inclusive and embrace the diversity in our sector. We will continue to work with our members and committees to improve in these areas.