From the General Chairs, Sanmi Koyejo and Shakir Mohamed
As a conference, NeurIPS has a commitment to creating more accessible and inclusive spaces, and to do this as a priority while staying within our means. This commitment includes reducing barriers to participation through programs for financial assistance, accounting for dietary requirements, facilities for parents’ rooms, child care, hearing loops, and other accommodations for the in-person conference, and having globally accessible platforms and tools for the virtual conference.
Travelling to in-person conferences continues to be an important and highly-personal decision, and this post describes some of the facilities and safety considerations to inform your time at the conference. If you have not done so yet, register here for the in-person or online conference.
As a condition of registration, all attendees are expected to be familiar with the code of conduct and to abide by its conditions.
In anticipation of the growing size and broad interest in attending the conference, the 2022 conference is hosted in the award winning New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the sixth largest convention facility in the United States. We are using half the space this year, and have sufficient space to allow for uncrowded activities.
Poster sessions. We have one large poster hall this year. All posters are spaced 6-feet apart to allow for easy movement and to prevent crowding.
Accessibility. The conference has all the facilities expected, including a prayer room, nursing room, childcare, gender-neutral toilets, is wheelchair accessible, and can meet other needs (e.g., accommodating guide-dogs). Streams have captioning and are available on the website afterwards for asynchronous viewing. If you have specific needs that you think we would not have accounted for, please let us know and we will do what we can to ensure needs are met.
Health and Safety
We have several components related to health and safety for the the in-person conference.
Security and policing. Access to the facility requires conference badges and these will be checked at all entrances by on-site security. The city is also aware of the conference and there is generally increased police-presence around the conference venue during large events.
Medical emergencies. All attendees should ensure that they have appropriate travel insurance. As always, we have on-site paramedics for the entirety of the conference in case of medical emergencies. New Orleans has a robust health system, with 3 hospitals within the LCMC Health system located within 2 miles of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. One of those hospitals is University Medical Center, the regional Level 1 Trauma and Burn Center. Another, Touro Infirmary, is the high-risk OB center for our health system and other advanced therapies.
Pregnancy. We have discussed concerns that have been raised regarding access to reproductive healthcare at the conference location formally with the President and Chief Medical Officer of LCMC Health, the nonprofit network of healthcare providers in Southern Louisiana based out of New Orleans. Hospitals in New Orleans will continue offering patient care including birth control and emergency contraception, and care for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. The Dobbs ruling and the subsequently enacted Louisiana trigger law have not changed the ability to offer these services.
COVID-19. We continue to be mindful of the spread and risks of COVID-19 infection. The conference strongly encourages receiving vaccination/boosters, distancing as much as possible to reduce spread, and the use of (FFP2/N95) masks during indoor events such as keynotes and posters. We allocated the use of spaces to ensure distancing is possible. Regular testing is encouraged, and tests can be obtained from local pharmacies. Face shields will be available for poster presenters, hand-sanitizer and masks will be available for attendees.
During both the in-person and virtual conference, behaviour that violates the code of conduct should be reported as soon as possible – please refer to the Code of Conduct for the reporting process . The conference has a robust reporting process that ensures confidentiality. All cases are handled by an independent consultant who has worked with the conference for many years and is a specialist in dealing with conflicts and participant relations.
We encourage you to join the conference both in-person and online, and register if you have not yet done so. All the organizing teams are now hard at work to bring all the final details of the conference together. You can find additional information on accessibility and health and safety on the NeurIPS visiting New Orleans page.
Next week, our third and final post in this series will dig into specific highlights of the conference. Get an overview of the conference format of this year’s conference by looking through last week’s post.
See you at the conference soon.
P.S. Our best wishes for a spooky and autumnal week ahead. This post was written while listening to Bourbon Street Parade. Tweet our content to encourage a wide gathering of our community, and plan your list of people to reconnect with at the conference.