Cocoa Conf

Cocoa Conf Yosemite kicks off in a few days. I’m super excited to learn new things, explore Yosemite National Park with my peers, and I hope to meet a couple of my heroes. When I met the organisers of Cocoa Conf, Dave and Solomon Klein at Cocoa Conf San Jose last year, we talked about what was then just an idea and has since become Sound Off. I felt more people could benefit from the great material and networking opportunities afforded by Cocoa Conf, especially their Yosemite event. As making professional venues more accessible is our thing, it seemed natural to offer to provide American Sign Language interpreters and live captioning to open up the event to hearing impaired and English-as-a-second-language attendees.

Before Sound Off was officially founded, we didn’t give much thought to whether conferences had a strong code of conduct or not. We got our start providing scholarship tickets to Layers 2015. Next, we underwrote ASL interpreters and live captioning for Alterconf Detroit. Then, we funded scholarship tickets to NSScotland, which had a considerable brouhaha surrounding their CoC – I genuinely don’t know the details, but I know everyone involved is upset about it. As we got going, it became clear we needed to take a position on codes of conduct and the only position to take is that a strong code of conduct is mandatory. Our Board has recently voted unanimously to only support organisations with strong codes of conduct.

This brings me back to Cocoa Conf, which doesn’t have a code of conduct. As we began to plan for Yosemite, I emailed Dave and Solomon to see whether we could get them to adopt a code of conduct. We were willing to be pragmatic: something that offered reasonable and specific protections that might be enhanced over time. Regrettably, we weren’t able to make sufficient progress to allow us to support Cocoa Conf Yosemite.

I understand Dave and Solomon have concerns about adopting a code of conduct, but I think these concerns don’t reflect the current climate. When I met the Kleins, I felt immediately welcome; a code of conduct would give everyone the same feeling of welcome even if they haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the Kleins first. It also makes it clear misbehaviour will not be tolerated.

I’m genuinely looking forward to Cocoa Conf Yosemite. I’m also looking forward to working with the Kleins so Sound Off can play a role in expanding accessibility of Cocoa Conf in the future.

UPDATE 6 March: I was mistaken about Layers 2015 not having a Code of Conduct. Jessie Char has let me know Layers 2015 did have a Code of Conduct, but I had trouble finding it on the Layers Web site. I’ve updated the second paragraph to reflect this.