Overview | Preparing for the Conference | At the Conference | Scheduled Events | Meet the Committee



The meaning of Back to the Future, the film and theme, is diverse in its interpretation.  Some people view it solely in the context of TECHNOLOGY and how science can shape the future.  Others view it as, since we can’t change the past, we need to change our FOCUS back to the future.  And finally, some claim it means reinventing tomorrow by revisiting our WAYS of yesterday. For the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, we believe it is all three.  

The Diversity & Inclusion Committee for Accelerate 2018 broadly defines diversity and inclusion as honoring all individuals for who they are, where they are. It also means connecting with each other and creating an environment where everyone feels like they are part of the Conference community.   

We have also included accessibility information. If you require 1:1 consulting to address your accommodation requests in order to ensure you are able to fully participate in the conference, please indicate your accommodation needs during the registration process. We will work with you individually and with the appropriate vendors or the hotel to make sure that your specific accommodation needs are addressed. If you have questions or would like to discuss your accessibility needs or concerns, please email us at conference@onlinelearning-c.org.

We are happy to provide the following suggestions on what you can do at the conference to bring diversity and inclusion Back to the Future.


Preparing for the Conference

During Registration

Dietary Restrictions

The conference registration process includes a question asking you to identify any special dietary needs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, pork-free). The hotel labels everything on buffets/stations with the most common dietary restrictions (gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, vegan, contains nuts, etc.).

There is also space in the registration form to indicate if you have a life threatening food allergy.  All life threatening food allergy information will be provided to the event banquet manager, who will review the list with the chef to determine who is not accommodated by each menu and would require a separate meal. If your life threatening allergy is not accommodated by each menu, we will provide you with a special meal ticket for any functions for which you require something other than the main menu.

Accommodation Requests

During the registration process, you will be asked to identify if you require an accessibility accommodation.  You will be contacted in October by OLC for a 1:1 consultation to discuss arrangements needed to maximize your conference experience.  If you missed this during the registration process, or are unsure whether or not you will need an accommodation, please contact the OLC Conference Team at conference@onlinelearning-c.org.

Requests for captioning and other on-site accommodation needs may be submitted to the conference team at conference@onlinelearning-c.org. OLC will strive to make accommodations to the best of our ability based on available resources. 


If you are a presenter, please attend the training session for your presentation type for guidelines to best accommodate all attendees in your session. Find more information by visiting the OLC Presenter Services page.

Presenters should ensure that their presentation materials will be accessible for individuals with a wide range of disabilities. Follow web accessibility guidelines to ensure everyone in the room can benefit and that the presentation materials are accessible.

If you are presenting and need an accommodation in order to be able to conduct your presentation, please let us know. If you need a low table to present your Discovery Session, please be sure to request that in advance of the conference.  

Presenters should plan to describe their slides, visual demonstrations, or videos to the audience for any attendees with visual impairments. Please conduct an accessible and inclusive session and repeat any questions that have not been asked through the microphone for any attendees who are deaf or hard of hearing.


The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort meets ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements and follows ADA accessible guidelines. Wheelchair accessible rooms can be requested at the time of making your hotel reservation. The Dolphin has a limited number of ADA rooms with two beds in the event that a conference attendee needs to bring an assistant. Please let us know if you would like to make a specific request for an ADA room with 2 beds by emailing conference@onlinelearning-c.org.

Getting There

Mears Transportation has ADA vans that can be requested ahead of time for transportation from the airport to the hotel.  

Disney Parks

Disney shuttle buses for transportation between Disney properties are equipped with wheelchair lifts. All Disney parks meet ADA requirements and follow ADA guidelines.


At the Conference

We want to make participating and the conference experience simple, accessible, and inclusive.

Facilities and Meeting Space

Stop by the Field Guide Station for an accessible meeting space map and tour.

The guest convenience elevator in the conference area can be found at:

  • Level 1 – exhibit hall level – Atlantic  C Foyer
  • Level 3 – main lobby level – Europe Foyer (across from Europe 1)
  • Level 5 – upper level – Across from Southern IV

Guests are welcome to use public restrooms that are most appropriate for their gender identity. The restrooms in the Southern Hemisphere Foyer (outside of Southern Hemisphere I) are designated as gender neutral. There are also single occupancy gender neutral restrooms located in the Australia 1-2 Foyer.

Nursing mothers should inquire at the registration desk for access to the lactation room.

General session and breakout session rooms are set with wide aisles in the center per ADA accommodation requirements. Designated accessibility sections can be located in the front of the room.  

Get Connected

Remember back to the days you were in elementary school and a new kid was experiencing their first day of class.  What did you do? You probably walked up to them, welcomed them, and introduced yourself. We encourage you to do the same at Accelerate.  Introduce yourself to people and make new connections and, who knows, maybe even friends.

  • Connect with the OLC Community via social media.
  • First time at the conference? Network and connect with the Field Guide Program
  • Walk-n-Talks are provided daily to help you get outdoors while connecting with others. Check out the schedule and topics and mark it on your calendar.  
  • During the Wednesday and Thursday networking breaks, check out Speed Networking in the Exhibit Hall.

Unplug and Refocus

Everyone needs a break and time to decompress when at a large conference. Take advantage of the opportunities to unplug and refocus.

“The Sanctuary” room is a quiet, reflective space – located in Europe 4 – available for all conference attendees to use. This is a quiet space room.  No cell phone conversations allowed. Please keep face-to-face conversation to a minimum or at a very low level so as not to disturb others in the room.

Attend Unoffice Hours to help us focus in on the needs of the conference community. This is a chance to engage with a member of the D&I committee to share your thoughts/impressions/comments on diversity and inclusion.

Begin your day with positive intentions by doing slow flow yoga in ASIA 2 at 6:30AM daily (Wed-Fri).


Scheduled Events

To highlight where opportunities for discussion and action around diversity and inclusion are taking place at OLC Accelerate 2018, check out the list below. Depending on your preference, you can engage in these very important conversations in both large-group and small-group/individual formats.

Tuesday, November 13


Wednesday, November 14


Thursday, November 15


Friday, November 16

  • The Sanctuary room, 7:30am-12:30pm, Europe 4


Angela Gibson  

Angela M. Gibson

Dr. Angela M. Gibson is the Associate Director for Curriculum Innovation at Colorado State University – Global Campus. She serves as faculty for the Online Learning Consortium Institute for Professional Development. Angela is an adjunct Lecturer in the Higher Education Administration Leadership doctoral certificate and masters of Adult Education program at Texas A&M University – Kingsville.  She achieved the rank of Professor at American Public University System where she taught first-year, senior, and graduate students, designed and developed curriculum, and created initiatives for student engagement. Angela presents at national and international conferences, has published in various peer reviewed journals, and serves as a reviewer for journals in the field. She served as the Chair of the Technology Test Kitchen for the 2017 OLC Accelerate Conference. Dr. Gibson is a NASA Solar System Ambassador and a recipient of the OLC 2014 Effective Practice Award.

Jennifer Paloma Rafferty

Jennifer Paloma Rafferty

Jennifer Paloma Rafferty is the Director of the Institute for Professional Development at the Online Learning Consortium. She has served on strategic planning committees for inclusion and multiculturalism in higher education and she has worked as an advocate and interpreter for immigrant and refugee communities.

Sherri Restauri   

Sherri Restauri

Dr. Sherri Restauri joined the Coastal Office of Online Learning as Director in 2016; this fall she is starting her 18th year serving in online learning. Her research focus is on improving the teaching and learning process across all teaching modalities through the use of technology, with specific interest in pedagogical practices to increase student engagement, and best practices in online pedagogy. Sherri is heavily involved in digital accessibility, OERs, and integrating quality standards into the T/L process for faculty across all modalities of teaching. She also serves as a teaching associate in the Department of Psychology at CCU, specializing in Developmental Psychology. She has served in the planning and steering committees with OLC Innovate and Accelerate for a number of years, serving in the 2018 year as Program Co-Chair for Accelerate and Workshops Track Chair for Innovate 2019. She is the Editor of the Professional Coaching board for MERLOT, as well as a long-time board member in the Psychology Editorial Board for MERLOT.

Janet Smith  

Janet Smith

Janet Smith serves as an Instructional Designer leading quality assurance initiatives at the University of Arizona with the Office of Digital Learning. She manages a multitiered and collaborative quality assurance process to ensure that courses developed for Arizona Online are designed for student success and engagement. Janet works with partners across campus to integrate best practices around course design, copyright, UDL, and accessibility into the instructional design process and leads the Quality Matters program for the university.

Michael Willis  

Michael Willis

As the Senior Learning Environment Architect for the Institute of Learning Environment Design (ILED) at the University of Central Oklahoma, Michael Willis works with clients from various industry (government, military, schools, corporations, and associations) in various countries to develop, or re-envision, their training and development courses and programs.  He serves as an educational consultant and trainer where he uses the unique visual planning tools and approaches developed by the institute to help clients create innovative and engaging learning experiences in both the classroom and online environments. His areas of expertise include learner engagement, organizational buy-in, learning community development, program design, and course design.

In addition to his role with ILED, Michael is also a member of the Department of Sociology, Gerontology, and Substance Abuse Studies where he has taught for the last 16 years.  In that role, he specializes in minority studies, criminology, cultural anthropology, and social theory.