Balisage 2020 will be online-only

Balisage 2020 will be a virtual event for both speakers and attendees. This is new for Balisage, and we ask for patience and assistance as we figure it out!

To disturb the circadian rhythms of attendees as little as possible, we'll have fewer talks per day, and the conference will expand to five days (Monday-Friday). The talks offered for this year's symposium on accessibility will be given during the main conference. We will begin the earliest talk at 10 am Eastern Time (7 am Pacific Time), and end the last talk of the day at 5 pm Eastern (11 pm in most of continental Europe). The full program shows times in EDT and an Interactive Schedule-at-a-Glance converts them for the convenience of attendees world wide.

Conference Portal

Balisage 2020 will be accessed through the Balisage Portal on Whova. The conference presentations will be in Zoom, available only through Whova. There are several reasons we are using Whova:

  • Restricting access this way reduces the anxiety some of our participants and their employers have about participating in a Zoom-based event.
  • It is possible that restricting access this way will actually prevent pranksters and people with unfriendly intent from disrupting Balisage.
  • Whova provides tools for social interactions that enable some unstructured conversation. (This is not as good as a face-to-face event, but we hope it is better than nothing.)
  • Whova provides tools for managing Question and Answers and similar interactions with presenters.

Balisage is an Interactive Event

Balisage has always been a highly interactive event, and we are doing our best to continue that as we move to new technology. This means that we will not record Balisage, we are explicitly leaving time in the program for questions and answers, we are scheduling small group conversations, and we will provide times for attendees to do tech-checks to ensure that they can ask questions and participate in conversations.

The proceedings of Balisage 2020 will be freely available with the proceedings from all previous Balisage events in the Balisage Series on Markup Technologies.

Tips for Participants

Attending, and participating in, a virtual conference is different from attending a physical event. It is also different from participating in web-based phone calls and small meetings. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of Balisage 2020:


  • Test your Tech before the conference begins, either during the pre-conference Tech-Testing and Social Hours or by sending email to and asking for one-on-one testing, which is available not only to speakers (we are setting up one-on-one tech-checks for speakers) but also providing help to any attendee who requests it. Attendee Tech-Testing sessions are:
  • Prevent Feedback One and ONLY ONE microphone, one and only one speaker. Be sure that you have at most one microphone in your system when you participate in Balisage.
    1. if you have two copies of Whova going on one machine, and the microphone on that machine is on, you have TWO live microphones, TWO speakers that will not be in sync, and you WILL create a feedback squeal.
    2. if you run Whova on your computer and also on a mobile device, be careful to use sound and microphone on the same device, and on ONLY ONE device
    3. if you are watching Balisage with others, be sure that you have only one sound system going if any of you are going to activate a microphone
    4. If you can't figure out why you have feedback, use a headset.
    We WILL mute anyone who is creating feedback.
  • Web Portal, not App You can access Balisage either through the Whova web portal or using the Whova mobile app. Try the app if you want, but we suggest that it is far easier to see the presentation visuals using the web portal.
    Whova provides some guides on how to use their app: Whova User Tutorial and Whova Video Tutorial. If you do use the mobile app, rotate it to get the visuals to go to full screen.


  • Mute Yourself When you are not actively talking be sure you are muted. Your cat and children are cute; we could get used to the firehouse across the street from you; and our plumbing makes noises, too; but please do not share.
  • Draft Questions Offline If your questions or comments are longer than a few words, compose them in an off-line editor and copy them in to the Whova Q&A window.
  • Spread the Word Use #balisage to identify the conference on social media.

Social Opportunities

  • Balisage Bard is an opportunity for Balisage attendees to share their literary and/or artistic side for 2 minutes. Details in the conference program. To sign up to participate in Balisage Bard, post your name and the title of your offering on the "Balisage Bard Sign-up".
  • Pet Pics will be a contest to match the pet photo to the Balisage attendee. Details later.
  • Community interactions are available through the Whova Community Board for all Balisage registrants. Join a conversation or start one; post photos; ask questions of the speakers or organizers; even suggest Virtual Meetups.

Tips for Speakers

  • Test your Tech Arrange a time to test your technology, including your visuals, before your presentation. If you improve your setup after the test, TEST AGAIN!
  • Camera Off When Showing Slides It is nice (but not required) for you to have your camera on so we can see your face during your introduction and after your presentation when you are answering questions. Please turn it off while you are showing slides to reduce bandwidth requirements and improve the viewing experience for attendees.
  • Camera at Eye Level Try to have your camera at eye level or slightly above eye level. It is hard for the audience to concentrate on what you are saying when they are looking up your nose.
  • No Artificial Backgrounds The best background for a video presentation is probably a plain wall or an uncluttered room. But a bookcase, a curtained window, or a normal home or office environment are better than virtual backgrounds that fade in and out and wiggle. You are not speaking at Balisage from the bridge of the Enterprise, Bob's Burgers, or the Batcave. Unless you are speaking from a cruise ship, the beach, or a mountain top, please do not use them as backgrounds. (It probably would be a good idea to tidy your room before speaking.)
  • Time Have a clock within your range of vision and keep track of your time. While the moderator of your session will warn you when you are almost out of time, they will not be able to do so unobtrusively, and thus are unlikely to give you regular updates.
  • Let the Moderator Moderate Your session moderator will keep track of questions; focus on your presentation.
  • To Give Your Presentation
    1. YOUR TALK - Open the SW/app you will be using to show your slides. Position to first slide.
    2. LOGIN to Whova
      1. Open browser (Chrome seems to work best)
      2. Navigate to Balisage:
      3. sign in to Whova
    3. SHARE SCREEN (From the Whova site)
      1. Choose Agenda (in Main Navigation)
      2. Click on Name of Your Session
      3. Choose controls
        1. Unmute
        2. Start Video
        3. Share Screen
        4. Application Window Tab
        5. Choose your slide Window
        6. Share (Blue button at bottom)